This interview of Michael Cambridge, Order Master of the Scourge of God, was conducted a couple of years ago, during the events described in Refuge Volume One: The Order Master. Mike was living in the Napa house after meeting Amanda Johnson, the leader of the Andol, and I interviewed him during a relatively peaceful lull in that stormy period.
BR: Mr. Cambridge, you were born in the United Kingdom, am I right?
MC: No, actually I was born in New York City. I spent my childhood in Cambridge, England, though. My family was named for the city.
BR: If you were born in the United States, then —
MC: I have dual citizenship, USA and UK. Yes.
BR: Is that how you came to be living in California?
MC: Partly. Partly I returned to the land of my birth because I was fleeing the Scourge of God.
BR: You were fleeing the Scourge.
BR: But you’re the leader of the Scourge, the Order Master. Why would you flee from your own followers?
MC: I was never given a choice about whether to become the Order Master. It’s a hereditary position, you see, handed down from father to son since Osgood of Cambridge founded the order in the fourteenth century. Honestly, I didn’t want the job, but they don’t just let you leave. If you try, they’ll hunt you down and kill you.
BR: That sounds pretty nasty.
MC: I agree.
BR: Maybe you should tell us something about the Scourge of God.
MC: Well, they’d kill me for that, too, but I’ve already crossed the line by mentioning that the order exists, so what the hell. They can only kill me once. The Scourge was founded by my ancestor to fight the Droon.
BR: And the Droon are the aliens you mentioned earlier.
MC: Yes, I know that about them now. Osgood saw them as devils in human form, though, and that’s what the Scourge believed for centuries. There’s good reason to see them that way. They’re thoroughly nasty, evil folk. Their auras look decidedly unnatural. They have magical powers.
BR: Yes, you mentioned the Droon and Andol auras earlier. I’m a little confused about that.
MC: Human beings who develop their spiritual talents often are able to see auras. One can tell things about a person’s health, whether they have spiritual talents and how strong they are, the state of mind, and so on by looking at the aura. Well, the Droon aura is completely different from a human being’s, and so is the Andol aura. That’s how Osgood knew that the Droon were something unnatural and not just really nasty human beings.
BR: What does the Droon aura look like?
MC: It’s hideous. It’s black as ink, to start, and full of little rapidly-swirling points of light that look like sunlight reflecting off shattered glass. You get the sense that if you approach a Droon too closely, you’ll be shredded by these swirling bits of broken glass. That’s not really so, of course, but what could happen to you is even worse. The Droon like to shackle people in their home torture chambers and subject them to agonies that they can prolong for years before the person dies. To be taken as a toy by a Droon is to enter Hell. You can also feel this evil about them. The aura isn’t just ugly to look at; even worse is the sense of pure, concentrated malice and wickedness that pours off it like sludge. Putting all of this together and bearing in mind that Osgood was a devout Christian living in the Middle Ages, it’s not difficult to see why he thought the Droon were devils.
BR: He was wrong, though.
MC: Yes. The Droon are the survivors, in a spiritual sense although not physically, of a world destroyed in war. So are the Andol. The two species exterminated one another, and then some of them used magical arts to reincarnate on what they call a “refuge” world, and as it happened both of them came here. They’ve become human beings, but one can still see their alien origins in their auras and in their behavior. But you asked about the Scourge of God. Osgood of Cambridge was a mystic who had visions of the future. He foresaw the decline of Christianity and the loss of faith in modern times and the vision disturbed him, naturally enough considering how devout he was. When he discovered the Droon, he saw them — the devils in human form that he thought they were — as responsible for what was coming. In a way, he was right about that, but for a different reason. Anyway, what he decided to do was to find the Droon and kill them, and he founded the Scourge for that purpose. It was and remains a very secretive Christian society, a society of assassins with very specific targets. The Scourge sees its victims as devils, not people, but of course the law doesn’t make that distinction, so the Scourge operates in strict secrecy according to binding rules.
BR: It’s a society established to commit murder, then.
MC: They would disagree that it’s murder, but yes, that’s how the law sees it. I’m a murderer myself. I’ve killed five Droon over the years.
BR: That’s a heavy burden to bear, I imagine.
MC: It would be worse if the Droon weren’t so thoroughly vile, but yes. It’s the main reason I want out, along with the adherence to a religion I don’t believe in, and the medieval world-view. When my father died, I fled to California, making use of my U.S. citizenship. My father died when I was twenty-seven and by the rules of the order I couldn’t become Order Master until I turned thirty. I hoped I could escape, but they found me and forced me to become Order Master. They would have killed me if I had refused. At any rate, when I discovered the true nature of the Droon, I also learned that when one of them dies, he reincarnates as a newborn human being with all his prior memories intact. So in a way, I haven’t killed anyone, at least not permanently.
BR: How did you encounter the Andol? I gather that Osgood didn’t know about them.
MC: No. There aren’t nearly as many Andol here as there are Droon, and the Andol are better at concealing themselves. They can disguise their auras to look human, which apparently the Droon can’t. I found out about the Andol by interrogating a Droon at knife point. There’s an old agreement between the Scourge of God and the Droon called the Pact of War. When we spare the life of a Droon, he must answer questions truthfully that are put to him — or her; I should say the Droon are of both sexes — by a Chapter Master or by the Order Master. It’s very dangerous, using the Pact, but sometimes necessary.
MC: Oh, yes! When we kill the Droon, normally we do it from a distance, using high-powered rifles and the like. Back in the Middle Ages they used to use crossbows. Confronting the Droon in person is difficult because of their magical powers. Steven Cambridge, Osgood’s grandson, was killed attempting to use the Pact. At any rate, I managed it and that’s how I learned that the Droon were aliens rather than devils, and how I learned of the existence of the Andol. I found one of the Andol after a long search, and that’s why I’m here now.
BR: The Andol you found was Amanda Johnson, correct?
BR: What can you tell me about her, and about the Andol in general?
MC: Well, like the Droon, the Andol have an unnatural aura. It looks like a sky-blue solar corona and crackles with energy. It’s quite pleasant to be near, very unlike what a Droon puts off. The Andol are generally much nicer people. Their home world had an egalitarian society and they would like to recreate that here on Earth, while the Droon want a society in which they are the masters and true humans serve them as slaves and torture-toys. Obviously, I like the Andol approach a good deal better.
BR: What are your feelings towards Amanda Johnson at this point?
MC: I wish I could answer that, Brian. I like her, I’m frankly attracted to her, and I may be falling in love. I rather hope not, though. She is — well, she’s quite manipulative and very powerful magically, and I’m not altogether sure I trust myself around her. I’m not sure where my natural feelings stop and her influence begins. I sought the Andol out because I need allies both against the Droon and against the Scourge of God. I still hope that I can find those allies here, but —
BR: So you still want to be free of your position as Order Master?
MC: More than ever. More than ever.
BR: Perhaps the Andol will help you to achieve that goal.
MC: I do hope so.