A/N: Lots of thanks to my beta The Wishyles! She asked for a story with an Australian character, and she added Australian slang.
All remaining mistakes are mine.
The first day
Dr Wayne Winfield looked at the ocean surrounding Atlantis from the Daedalus. When he had published his revolutionary theories about alternative computer languages at the University of Canberra he would never have thought that three years later he would be working on an alien planet in another galaxy. But since then he had been recruited by the IOA and now worked for Stargate Command. The deciphering of alien computer systems was his speciality. Unfortunately his position didn't include visiting other planets. So he had asked for a transfer to Atlantis and now he was really here.
"Ready for beaming?" Sergeant Mahoney gave him a friendly smile. During the trip Winfield had told everybody who wanted to hear it – and everybody who didn't want to hear it – how he was looking forward to Atlantis.
"Yep, you betcha." Excitedly he took his luggage and a moment later materialised in Atlantis' gate room. His gaze fell first on the ceiling, which seemed to be impossibly high and secondly on Dr Zelenka who grabbed him by the sleeve. "Dr Winfield, computer expert?"
"Yeah, that's me. You have to be…"
"Follow me please. Bates! Take Dr Winfield's luggage to his quarters."
In the time it took the Sergeant to take the bags away from the baffled scientist, Zelenka had already run halfway up the stairs. He turned back to Winfield. "Come on, we don't have much time, we go to the jumpers."
Winfield sprinted after the Czech who was jogging through the hallways while he talked. "A Wraith ship crashed. We want to recover and explore as much as possible, before the emergency signal will alert other Wraith."
In the jumper bay, several men and women were waiting. "Get in, go," Zelenka shouted, "we are in hurry."
Zelenka gave the go-ahead to the pilot before introducing the new scientist to everyone. Winfield was fascinated by the jumper's interior. "Wow, it looks bigger on the inside than the outside."
A scientist laughed, "It's not the TARDIS."
Before Winfield could reply, the jumper lifted off, hovering in front of the stargate for a moment and then flying into the wormhole.
"That was… cool," Winfield said when they arrived on the other side.
"You never travelled through a stargate?" Zelenka asked.
"One of the reasons I asked for a transfer," the Australian answered with a sigh.
The jumper softly touched down next to a gleaming black space ship. From their location it wasn't possible to comprehend its size. The pilot pointed to a breach in the hull. "That's the entrance. Remember your route so that we can evacuate as fast as possible if it becomes too dangerous to stay."
The equipment was distributed among the staff before they descended down the jumper's ramp. While Winfield looked at two other jumpers standing near by, Zelenka approached him with a laptop and some cables. "That's for you. I'm sorry your job starts this way, but…"
"No worries. There were days like these at the SGC as well."
Zelenka nodded. "The best thing would be if you go to the bridge straightaway, there is Dr McKay, he will give you an assignment." He waved a soldier over. "This is Corporal Stinger, he will escort you to the bridge. Be careful to stay all the time within reach and earshot. It's for your own safety."
"No worries. Are there still Wraith onboard?" Winfield asked with a light unease.
"Probably not. Please follow me," answered the corporal who rushed with quick steps to the entrance.
"Hey, what do you mean with 'probably not'?" The scientist had to hurry to keep pace with the soldier.
"The life signs detectors don't show anything, but when these creatures hibernate, they won't necessarily be displayed." The soldier helped Winfield to climb over the debris.
Winfield couldn't believe he was standing in the interior of a Wraith ship. He had read every single mission report, watched every picture and film, but still, the feeling of standing in a real, alien space ship was beyond description. This wasn't the metallic-sterile environment of the Daedalus, this felt organic, like standing in the body of a giant living being. "Blimey, how come the floor's so flat while everything else is bumpy and without recognisable angles."
"Now you mention it…" The soldier looked amazed at the floor of the space ship. "I never thought about it."
Carefully Winfield touched a wall and thought he registered some kind of pulsing rhythm. The ship was impressive.
"Sir? We have to go to the bridge."
The scientist nodded with a sigh and followed the corporal. He would have liked to wander through the ship, taking his time and feeling, smelling, tasting, experiencing, what he only knew from pictures. But duty called.
There was a frantic feel to the bridge of the ship and Winfield could see the tension in the people as they worked. However he couldn't tell whether it was because they were afraid of an incoming Wraith ship or because of potential hibernating Wraith. McKay stood in front of a holographic projector and explained to a group of Marines – with wild gestures, which part of the ship to search and which to leave. When he finished, he stared at Winfield, "Who on earth are you?"
"Hi, Dr Wayne Winfield," he responded as he stretched out his hand to shake McKay's.
McKay thought for a moment, "Who?"
Slightly frustrated Winfield let his hand sink, "The computer expert from the SGC."
The Canadian seemed to be at a loss, "Did I ask for you?"
"I asked for a transfer."
"And I allowed the transfer?"
"You said my work at the SGC on the subject 'All-embracing approach for the use of translations, permutations and binary theories of unification in the Wraith computer language' was an excellent letter of recommendation."
Now the truth began to dawn on the head of science, "Ah, Dr Danfield, welcome aboard."
"What-ever. Good you're here. When the space ship crashed, the server was damaged. You need to save the data."
"No worries – I'll do my best. Where's the server?"
McKay pointed at a hallway, "Go to the first intersection, turn right and the server room is the third door on the left."
Winfield was just leaving when McKay called him back again. He planted himself in front of the Australian and waved his forefinger. "Don't touch anything that looks dangerous. I'm serious about it, don't touch anything that you don't recognise, anything that looks strange, anything that looks damaged, anything that looks dangerous. Do you understand?"
"Yep. Touch nothing, save the data." Unnerved Winfield was on his way.
Sheppard shouted behind him, "McKay forgot the most important thing. Don't touch anything which looks gluey or it'll stick to you for days."
Reaching the server room, Winfield was fascinated to see how the door, reminding him of a bat's wing, glided to the side. He hesitated before entering. He wasn't claustrophobic, but the room was small; hardly bigger than a bathroom and stuffed with Wraith computer consoles and image projectors. There were cables and leads hanging from the ceiling and the walls looking like major arteries. Or were they really arteries that looked like cables and leads? In some places a slimy mass pulsed from the cables and he assumed that they were damaged from the impact. As he stared at the consoles he realized how far apart theory and practice were. Theoretically, he knew how to connect a laptop to a Wraith computer. Practically however, everything which lay before him looked strange. He searched for a reference point, something that looked familiar. There was a console in the middle of the room taking up most of the space. yep, that had to be the main console. But the buttons and levers were unfamiliar, possibly sensors and displays. Maybe he should proceed purely by instinct? Then he remembered McKay's warning words.
It was pointless. He had to go and get some help. Without an own radio and without Corporal Stinger he would have to go back to the bridge.
On the way he had the creepy feeling someone was following him. Slowly he turned around, holding the laptop like a shield. On the floor behind him crawled a Wraith arm. The tendons and ligaments, which once connected it with the shoulder, left a bloody trail. Screaming loudly for help he ran the rest of the way to the bridge. Alarmed soldiers – Stinger was one of them – came towards him and opened fire until the arm wasn't moving any longer.
Sheppard came running as well, followed by McKay. The Colonel looked at the shredded arm, then yelled at Corporal Stinger, "Corporal, you were assigned to this man. Why did you leave him alone?"
"He wasn't that far away…"
"That is no excuse. From now on, you dog his footsteps."
"Yes, sir," the Corporal responded apologetically.
Sheppard looked at the shredded arm, then at the still shaking Winfield. "Those things can be quite terrifying, can't they? But don't worry, as long as it's just an arm or a leg, they aren't dangerous."
After Winfield calmed down he asked McKay for advice. McKay bad-temperedly growled, "You're the computer expert, aren't you? What do you think you have a laptop for? A protective shield against Wraith limbs? Or maybe as…"
"Rodney, be nice to the new scientist. It's his first day and it hasn't begun particularly well." The Colonel spoke softly to McKay.
McKay took a deep breath, "The laptop has directions for using Wraith consoles. Go to directory 'plans', sub-directory 'Wraith'. You can do that much, can't you?"
Winfield nodded silently and returned to the server room, this time followed by Corporal Stinger.
"I'm sorry, sir, I shouldn't have left you alone." The soldier was honestly distressed.
"Hey, it's okay. Will you get in trouble?"
"Oh, the Colonel is alright. When he sees you recognize your mistake, he goes easy."
The scientist opened the door to the server. "Great. Will you be waiting outside?"
Stinger nodded. "The room's too small for both of us. We'll be squatting on top of each other the whole time. Call, if something is wrong."
Winfield started the laptop and called up the plans for the console. The on-switch was on the right side of the console. He pushed it – and nothing happened. The power supply was interrupted. And with that the real work began. He knew he would be able to bypass any damaged areas by using the wires hanging from the wall as a bridge across the damage. Slowly he made progress and gained confidence so when Zelenka came to make sure everything was alright the console was supplied with power again.
"Very good work, Dr Winfield. That's really… Oh!"
The Australian almost slumped into a heap. Had he done something wrong? Did he miss something?
Zelenka muttered something in Czech and enlarged the image on one of the screens. There was a green arrow, which symbolised a space ship. He tapped his head mic, "Attention, a Wraith ship is approaching. The estimated time of arrival will be…" He entered a numerical order in the computer. "in 40 to 45 minutes. That means we have to evacuate immediately." He addressed Dr Winfield. "Take your equipment and follow Corporal Stinger to the outside." The Czech ran back to the bridge.
Winfield ignored the command and instead started to connect his laptop to the console.
"What are you doing? You heard Zelenka."
"I've got time to download some data."
"We've been ordered back. The Wraith ship is coming."
"In forty minutes. We can make the jumper in twenty minutes, so…"
"Forget it. It's too risky."
"Listen mate, if I'd have thought about searching my laptop for the plans of the console earlier on, then I would've downloaded most of the data by now. Dr McKay is already pissed with me and I don't want to get any further into his bad books."
"No, he won't be angry. Well, maybe a bit, but her also places a human life above some data. Let's go!"
"Just give me ten!"
The soldier sighed, "Five minutes, and if you then won't come voluntarily I'll pull you out."
At the five minute mark, and on Stinger's command Winfield shut his laptop and they both ran towards the exit. Half way, the Corporal stopped and laid his finger on his lips, "Shh." He switched off his radio. Winfield held his breath, but then had to breathe in deeply – and loudly. Stinger looked at him reproachfully; then spoke in a whisper, "We have to take another way."
"Why?" the scientist said under his breath.
Winfield listened carefully. It was hardly audible and sounded as if somewhere in the distance newspapers were being ripped apart.
"Yeah. What is it?"
"Wraith, hatching out of their cocoons. Probably the other ship sent a wake up call."
Winfield's heart was in his mouth, "Are you sure?"
Stinger nodded and gave the scientist a pistol. "You are able to handle it, aren't you?"
"Yeah, basic training."
"That'll do it."
They sneaked along hallway after hallway, climbed down ladders and went up stairs, until Winfield was completely lost. He looked at his watch. Exactly 37 minutes ago Zelenka had estimated 40-45 minutes for the Wraith ship's arrival. Were they near the exit? Or did they have to take a completely different way out? Would the others wait for them? Or would they have no other choice but to leave the planet before the Wraith ship arrived?
Finally he saw daylight in the distance. It had to be the breach in the hull! But as they approached the exit a Wraith ran from behind growling. Both men fired until the Wraith hit the ground. With more Wraith appearing the Corporal pushed Winfield to the exit, "Run!"
Debris prevented a exit, so Winfield jumped. He landed with his knee on a piece of metal, but with adrenaline rushing around his body he hardly felt any pain.
Running into the open, he realized there were no jumpers. Stinger was behind him, "Run, dammit!"
Where to, he wondered and simply ran straight ahead when, from nowhere Ronon, Teyla and two Marines appeared. Their concerted firepower stopped the Wraith. Winfield had completely forgotten that a puddle jumper could cloak. While Stinger jumped into the already moving jumper, Winfield was pulled aboard by McKay and Teyla. Ronon fired some rounds at the Wraith, and then the hatch closed. Winfield lay on the floor of the jumper, completely exhausted from the sprint. McKay bent over him, "Where the hell have you been? Weren't you under the order to evacuate immediately? You could have died! Why was your radio off? What…"
"Not now, McKay!" Sheppard shouted from the pilot's seat.
The corporal was out of breath as well. "We left as soon as the doc saved some of the data, but had to dodge Wraith cocoons and find a different way out."
"Well done, Corporal," the Colonel praised.
"You were able to save data?" McKay grabbed the laptop. He was too busy to talk to anyone for the rest of the flight.
It was already evening when they reached Atlantis. One by one they left the jumper, except for McKay who was still brooding over the laptop. A Marine supported Winfield as he couldn't walk on his injured knee.
Zelenka, who was waiting outside the jumper, told Winfield, "Go to the infirmary. After that it would be the best if you go to bed. Tomorrow will be enough time to introduce you officially."
Dr Beckett tended the injured Australian who muttered, "Well, bugger, that wasn't a brilliant start to the new job."
"You know, on my first day in Atlantis the city was submerged under water, we met the Wraith the first time and thought we would never be able to go back to Earth." Beckett smiled and gave crutches to the yawning Winfield. "Go to bed, tomorrow's another day."
"I haven't met Dr Weir yet."
When Winfield entered his quarters it was completely dark outside and as he switched the lights on, he saw a handwritten note on his bed. "Welcome to Atlantis" Smiling, he picked up the note, signed by Dr Weir.
He stood at the window looking at the lights of Atlantis, revealing the alien and beautiful silhouette of the city and realised he was happy. Tired and shattered, but happy.