Introduction (Revision 3)
If you’ve never heard of me, the first thing you’d probably want to know would be the details of my ignominious death, or whether I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, or did I feel any pain, or could it have been prevented, and all that other existential trash that everyone seems to want to know from the dead.
Frankly, I hate thinking about it. It makes me sad.
In the end, everyone dies. It’s rarely a fun experience, is almost always sad, is occasionally very smelly, and can be extremely messy depending on the circumstance. If you take away all the Darwinian ways that we stupid humans can die—electrocution, sports, vehicular accidents, drugs, weapons of all varieties, poison, crimes of passion, and the like—not to mention deaths from common things like old age, disease, and organ failure, what you’re left with is a very simple experience. One moment you’re breathing, thinking, screwing, eating, walking, sleeping, or whatever, and the next moment you’re not.
But our lives?
Now that’s a different story altogether.
But where do I begin?
What would help you understand my life, almost 900-years after my official demise?
What really defined the man known as Andrew D. Codstopt—pronounced “Koh-stohf” not “Kop-stopt”—beyond the sensationalized, and often fictionalized, accounts that the Journalist Consortium and the galactic government have spoon-fed to the masses?
What would help you understand the man who became known over the centuries by such monikers and noms de guerre as: Founder of the Interplanetary Commonwealth; Corsair of the Outer Expanse; Bringer of Hope and Light; Inmate 09871991A; Auntie Emil, the Scarlet Hand of the New London Thieves Guild; Elder Carmichael; Enrique Esteban Gutierrez (aka the Czar of Fashion); Padre José del Paño Eterno; The Shadow in the Darkness; Admiral Crispin Ramirez III of the Sixth Procyon Armada; La Voix de la Raison; and the Deathless One (as I’ve become known to a select few in certain secret shadow organizations within and without the Commonwealth), to name a few.
In the end, I guess it really comes down to the beginning.
To understand the man I would eventually become, and the personas I would adopt over the centuries, we need to go back to where it all began.
Back to rural Pennsylvania at the end of the 20th century, not too long before the world we knew died and was reborn anew.