They walked carefully through the village, with Jack forced to hold fast to the strap on Daniel's TAC vest to stop him from giving in to the pleas of the sick and dying despite the gloves and masks hopefully protecting them. He felt the same urge to rush to help, wanting to alleviate the suffering of the people, many of whom were children, but they couldn't help them if they became infected too.
He had already sent Sam and Teal'c back to the Stargate to report the situation, requesting medical assistance, though Jack was unsure what anyone could do against an Ori plague. Perhaps all they could do was offer comfort to the dying.
Someone grabbed at the bottom of his BDUs but the shift of his moving feet dislodged their weak grasp. He looked down for a moment and felt a wave of pity overwhelm him but resolutely kept moving forward, dragging Daniel along with him.
"We can't save them. Not like this," he insisted, though it broke his heart to keep walking.
The only way to stop this terrifying plague was to stop the Ori, and this world held yet another clue to building a device that could destroy the rogue Ancients who had twisted the power of Faith to their own evil end.
They reached the small building that stored scrolls and books handed down through generations and stepped inside the dusty interior. Opening shutters to let in natural light through the pane glass windows, Jack hoped the sight of all these old books would be enough to distract Daniel from the misery beyond these walls. In one corner, the librarian lay in a ragged heap and Jack checked for a pulse but found none.
He sighed and stepped back, finding a shawl lying over the back of a chair and placed it reverently over the corpse.
"It's here somewhere," Daniel murmured.
He was searching for an old tome that he'd seen in this small library several years earlier. At the time it had made little sense, but that had been before the Ori priests moved into the galaxy ahead of their vast army. Daniel found it now and opened up the yellowed and brittled pages, looking for the illustration that had caught his attention that last time.
"Here," he murmured, but looked to Jack in concern even as Jack spun on his heel, P90 raised, at the sound of a thump coming from the corner.
Another thump against the door made Daniel jump but Jack was more concerned with the scraping movement coming from within the small library. Jack considered the possibility that it was some sort of carrion vermin, especially when the shawl twitched, but just then a bony, sore-covered hand pushed aside the shawl and yellowed, inhuman eyes snapped to where it heard the small shuffle of movement as Jack stepped towards it.
It snarled and started to clamber to its feet.
Every zombie movie Jack had ever had the misfortune to watch came slamming back, and he backed away.
"Time to pack up and leave," he ordered, and for once Daniel obeyed immediately.
Still unconvinced, Jack debated on whether to fire a single round into the 'zombie' librarian's head, until they heard the first feeble scream come from outside. Glancing through the window, he saw figures lurching towards the living and attacking. He saw bloody entrails from ripped bellies, limbs torn from still living bodies as the zombie-like creatures dropped down and began to feed on those still living.
In his moment of distraction, the zombie librarian had gained its feet and was almost upon him. Jack fired a single round while Daniel opened the door only to slam it shut immediately as several creatures tried to get inside. The back of the small building led out into a small alleyway between other buildings and they moved quickly while the way was still clear.
Another creature appeared between them and the street beyond, but Daniel shoved down Jack's arm as he readied to take another shot.
"Sound is attracting them."
With a curse, Jack pulled a knife from its pouch and moved forward, plunging it into the creature's head. It went down immediately, and they raced through the streets avoiding the clutches of the living dead. His radio clicked and he tapped it even as they ran.
"Carter to O'Neill. We have a medical unit-."
"Belay that, Carter. Dial the Alpha site and send our people back."
They cleared the village and ran down the well-kept track towards the Stargate, and Jack was relieved when he saw the blue shimmer until more of the undead came around from behind the stone platform. He saw one grab a medic, teeth sinking into the juncture between neck and shoulder while another zombie latched onto the medic's legs and dragged him down.
"Head shots!" he yelled into his radio, and watched as the two accompanying marines, Carter and Teal'c began targeting the zombies.
They cleared the path for Jack and Daniel, but Jack stopped them from taking the mutilated and obviously dead medic with them. The man was a biohazard now, and with remorse he fired a single shot into the man's head. Jack tore the dog tags off as Daniel and the others backed through the Stargate and watched as the gate shut down behind them.
After a week in an advanced bio containment facility, and more invasive test than he could count, Lam gave them all a clean bill of health. Daniel hadn't seemed to mind quite so much as he had his books and research to keep him fully occupied, but for Jack it was torture. It had been like living in a fish bowl, under observation every hour of every day. Although he could sit for hours pretending to fish by his pond, watching Daniel through the sealed plastic screening but unable to reach out and touch him had been frustrating.
He missed the feel of Daniel's skin against his own, and Daniel's need to touch him in turn; he wanted the kisses that Daniel bestowed so frequently and eagerly when they were truly alone. He missed the way Daniel blinked in surprised pleasure when Jack pulled him from his work late at night by wrapping his arms around him and possessively nuzzling the nape of his neck.
Fortunately, Lam ordered them all two days off-base before they would be allowed to resume their duties - and that suited Jack just fine as he closed all the shutters at the cabin to shut out any prying eyes. They had some catching up to do, and their own way of dealing with the horror they had seen. He pulled Daniel into his arms and kissed him deeply, the tension leaching from his body as Daniel pulled back only to grasp his hand and lead him through the cabin to the bedroom.
They closed the door behind them, shutting out the rest of the universe for the remainder of the night, and let their nightmares of the undead fall silent beneath the soft pleasurable cries of the living.