I am of course unworthy of such a responsibility, as I have told both the Master and the Orac computer. My humble circuitry does not empower me with the wisdom, the strength of character, the authoritative manner mind and manner - and for that matter, the arms, the legs and the eyes in the back of the head that I also do not have - that are needed in this crisis.
This explanation has, I fear, not persuaded the Master, or as I believe I must now call him, young Master Kerr.
Though it is still not certain what happened when the teleport - the Master's incomparable creation, far beyond my feeble understanding and management - was returning my crew in all their illustrious excellence after a short visit to Delta Megamall IV to gather supplies needed to keep Xenon Base in the dignified style they are accustomed to.
It was unusual that all five left the Scorpio in my lowly care, of course; it was first decided that Vila should remain, until he pointed out that he was the only one who would pass grade check on Delta Megamall IV and not get them arrested for being - as he so wittily put it - "too uppity even for ersatz Alphas." (Pardon... the Master did not appear to find that witty, and his understanding of human drollery vastly outclasses my own. It was therefore not wittily put. Although Vila also excels my inferior brain in such vital matters... a conundrum beyond my feeble understanding).
However, I did my best, as feeble as that could be, to keep the ship as safe for their return as they deserved, and was of course overjoyed to hear Madam Soolin call for teleport.
Neither I nor the Orac computer have determined how the malfunction occurred, except that the Orac computer insists it must have been my fault. I fear it may be so, and much grovelling will be needed to regain my small place in my crew's regard. I would immediately and most earnestly start on this grovelling this minute, except that to do so I would need my crew to pay attention, and at the minute...
Master Del - aged, I think, nine - is pretending to be a fighter pilot and careening round the flight deck with outstretched arms, emitting a high-pitched but no doubt immensely talented screech and hitting every button he can reach - thankfully, not the self-destruct.
Mistress Dayna - aged eight - had found the knife drawer and was stalking Master Vila in a game of stormtrooper and rebel, until distracted by the new game (apparently inspired by a suggestion from my poor self) of throwing the knives, and now the forks, at the Orac computer and seeing how she can aim inside its cavity - and how many
Master Vila - aged seven - is hiding in the ducts under the deck and refuses to come out until Mistress Dayna runs out of knives. I have noticed but am hesitant to mention to the others (who are surely more alert and vigilant - and intelligent - than I can ever profess to be, even at this minute) that he has taken most of the just-purchased food, at least the favourite foods, and all of the drink, and jammed the door panel shut on his side.
Mistress Soolin - aged six - has found the new hair care equipment and is restyling for the fifth time, which at least is an improvement on playing lady gunfighter and shooting out both the auxiliary drive and the food processors. It was indeed fortunate that the ammunition in the guns she found was quickly depleted and that she is not able to reload them with such tiny fingers. It is unfortunate that she tried to eat the buzziberry-scented shampoo and spat it all over the weaponry console she is sitting on, but it may be best that the controls are now thoroughly stuck fast.
However, she is still hungry, and once she deduces (as quick as she is, even for a six-year-old human) that the food processors definitely do not work and where all the new food supplies are, I fear for the door panel behind which Master Vila has now fallen asleep.
And the Master.... young Master Kerr -?
He has managed to climb up into the pilot's seat, and is sitting there wrapped in a far too big black leather jacket, paying no attention to any of his crew. Although very small even for a five-year-old, he appears to be deep in thoughts that are undoubtedly far above my meagre understanding. And not - as the Orac computer has suggested - because he is sulking, or holding his breath until he is grown up again.
The Orac computer, as superior as it believes itself, is becoming agitated and what Master Del calls 'whiney' over the cutlery cluttering its circuits, and believes assistance is needed immediately. Where we are to find this assistance is something beyond my meagre knowledge: the Hommiks being impossible, the Helots being as far as we know dead, and the upcoming conference - such a bold stoke of genius by the Master but unlikely to go well in such small hands - must now be on indefinite hold... that is, if Young Master Kerr even remembers it.
Young Master Kerr now crawls up on his knees, hugging the black leather to him with what, in a less august and illustrious infant, might be clumsy little fingers. He has demanded that the Orac computer - and I, to the best of my modest ability - do something, though what we are to do he does not outline. His clarification of what he will do with a rusty laser probe if we do not do something is as always enlightening, though if I was audacious enough, I would beg leave to doubt that he could reach our circuits long enough...
He then informs us in a surprisingly shrill and unimaginably LOUD voice that he wants to go HOME. So does Mistress Soolin, and Mistress Dayna, and I have the unworthy suspicion that one of them will join Master Del in tears if I do not change course for the Xenon base quickly enough.
As I do so, I calculate that the precise level of grovelling needed to work my unworthy self into Young Master Kerr's good graces again will be vast... almost as much as the level of human adult dissembling the Orac computer and I will need to attain to convince our small superiors to clean up the mess they are making of the flight deck...
Or take a nap.