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You can trigger this quest in a few places as you approach Grayditch (such as at the
). A young boy named Bryan Wilks will run up to you and tell you that Grayditch has been attacked by "big ugly things that crawl around on six legs" (aka fire ants), and he'll ask you to look for his father Fred. After giving you the quest, Bryan will decide to return to Grayditch and hide inside a preservation shelter (#1) while he waits for you.
Note: Depending on what you say to Bryan, he might give you a dumpster key. The key unlocks the dumpster behind the diner (#2).
If you somehow avoid meeting Bryan Wilks, you can also trigger this quest by talking to Dr. Lesko in Marigold Station (#13).
When you arrive in Grayditch, you'll find it mostly deserted, except for Bryan (#1) and a bunch of fire ants. Fire ants can be nasty to kill, simply because you'll face a lot of them, and they'll sneak up on you if you're not paying careful attention. So try to sweep through the town, clearing out the fire ants as you go.
From a few sources you'll hear that aiming for the ants' antennae is a good idea, but antennae can be difficult to hit, and head shots seem to be just as effective here as everywhere else, and so that's what we used. Just be sure to use a ranged weapon when fighting the ants. All of the fire ants get short-range fire attacks, and so they'll do a lot of damage to you if they're close to you, but they won't be able to do any damage if they're far away.
Note: You should save any
Fire Ant Nectar
that you pick up. After completing the quest you'll be able to sell the nectar for 40 caps each to Dr. Lesko in his shack (#3).
You'll find Fred Wilks' corpse inside the Wilks residence (#4). When you tell Bryan (#1) the bad news, he'll demand that you take action against the fire ants, and he won't take no for an answer.
If you then explore Dr. Lesko's shack (#3), you'll find some notes on his computer detailing his experiments with the fire ants. Apparently he was trying to reduce the size of the ants but instead gave them their fiery abilities. Upon learning this, the quest will update, and you'll be told to search for the source of the fire ants in Marigold Station (Exit A).
Eventually in the metro station you'll run into Dr. Lesko (#13). He'll describe his experiments to you -- and how he accidentally gave the ants "pyrosis" -- and he'll ask you to clear a path to his terminal in the Ant Queen's Hatchery (#14) so he can continue to work on his mutagen. He'll also let you know that his terminal is rigged with an "inhibitor pulse," and that sending it will sever the ties between the fire ants and their queen, and prevent any more fire ants from appearing in Grayditch.
Note: Even though it might be tempting, don't kill Dr. Lesko. The reward you'll get from him is way better than anything you might find on his corpse. But if you do kill him, then you'll probably need to hack into his computer (in the lab) to open the door to the hatchery (Exit C).
To clear the path to Dr. Lesko's terminal (#14), you'll need to kill five fire ant nest guardians. These ants are tougher than the other ants, but they'll fight you in just the same way, with short-range fire attacks. You'll probably find a couple of the guardian ants by themselves, but you might have to fight the last 2-3 all in one group. That means the best way to deal with them is explosives. If you have a few mines, you can drop them along the tunnel leading up to the ant queen (#15), and then lead the guardians back through it. You can also try hitting them with grenades or missiles, or just stick with your best ranged weapon.
After killing the nest guardians, you should continue on to Dr. Lesko's terminal (#14) -- for the
Big Book of Science
there if for no other reason. If Dr. Lesko is dead, then you'll need to use the terminal to send the inhibitor pulse and kill the fire ants in Grayditch, or you'll need to kill the fire ant queen herself (#15). If Dr. Lesko is still alive, then you can still do those things, but if you kill the ant queen then you'll need to pass a speech check when you return to him to get your reward.
Note: If you don't think you can pass the speech check, you can always complete the quest and then
kill the ant queen. The ant queen is tough, but she'll stand far away from you and not move, and so she's a perfect target for grenades and missiles. You'll gain karma if you kill the queen.
When you return to Dr. Lesko, assuming that he's happy with you, he'll give you
Lesko's Lab Coat
plus a perk, either Ant Sight (+1 PE and 25% fire resistance) or Ant Might (+1 ST and 25% fire resistance). He'll then leave his lab and head over to the terminal in the hatchery (#14). Later he'll return to his shack in Grayditch (#3).
To complete the quest, you'll need to return to Bryan Wilks (#1). He'll drop some hints that living in Grayditch with Dr. Lesko isn't his dream come true, and you'll have to make a choice. If you tell him he's better off in Grayditch, then that's how the quest will end. Otherwise, you'll have to find a home for him, and you'll have three choices: Vera in
, the children of
, or the slavers of
. Regardless of where you put him, you'll receive 300 experience points at the end of the quest.
1 - Pulowski Preservation Shelter
This is where you'll find Bryan Wilks.
2 - Diner
You won't find anything inside the diner, but behind it you'll discover an old dumpster. If you have the dumpster key from Bryan (from when you first talked to him), then that will unlock the dumpster. Otherwise you'll have to wait until you can pick its "very hard" lock. Inside you'll find a gun, some ammunition, some grenades, and some meds.
3 - Shack
This is Dr. Lesko's shack. When you first get to it, you'll find that it's locked with an "average" lock. If you can't pick it, then you can always get the key from the Wilks residence (#4).
Inside the shack you'll find Dr. Lesko's computer. You can get the password for the computer from a nearby table, or you can just hack the computer. If you read the notes on the computer, then you'll discover that Dr. Lesko accidentally gave the ants their fiery abilities, and that he's experimenting on them in Marigold Station (Exit A).
Later, after completing the quest (including finding a home for Bryan), Dr. Lesko will return to his shack, and he'll offer to buy
Fire Ant Nectar
from you for 40 caps each. Unfortunately, fire ants won't re-spawn in Grayditch or Marigold Station (despite what Dr. Lesko might tell you), and so this will probably be a one-time purchase.
4 - Wilks Residence
As soon as you enter the house, you'll discover the remains of Fred Wilks, Bryan's father, along with a couple of dead fire ants. If you search Fred's corpse then you'll find a shack key (for the shack at #3), and if you explore the house then you'll also find a
Chinese Assault Rifle
, some ammunition, a first aid box, and a bed that you can sleep on.
5 - Brandice Residence
You'll discover a few things of interest inside this house: a
plus some ammunition (inside a toolbox behind the refrigerator), a first aid box, a bed, a locked footlocker, and a computer terminal. You'll find a
inside the footlocker, but you might need to pick up William Brandice's key (#11) to get it open. On the computer you'll find Brandice's diary. If you read it then you'll learn how the Brandice family came to be in Grayditch, and you might also notice some references to Fallout 2.
6 - Abandoned Home
Inside this house you'll find a copy of
Guns and Bullets
(in a shelf on the ground floor), an ammunition box, a first aid box, a bed (with some Jet and pre-war money beneath it), and more.
7 - Abandoned Home
Inside this house you'll find a first aid box, a bed, and more.
8 - Grady's Corpse
Inside the ticket office here you'll find Grady's skeleton, a
, and a recording. If you listen to the recording, then you'll learn about a "package" that needs to be delivered to Ronald in
(apparently Grady was supposed to make the delivery himself, but he got trapped by the fire ants and killed himself). You'll find the package in a safe in the metro tunnels (#12), and you'll find the key to the safe in a fire hose box (#10). If you actually deliver the package as requested, then you'll earn 200 (or 300) caps.
9 - Service Corridor
You'll find a few useful items in this area of the metro station: a
Scoped .44 Magnum
Silenced 10mm Pistol
, some ammunition, a first aid box, and more.
10 - Storage Closet
You'll find some meds and ammunition inside this closet, and you'll also discover Grady's fire hose box, which contains Grady's safe key. You can use the key to unlock Grady's safe (#12).
11 - Service Corridor
In this corridor you'll find the body of William Brandice. He'll have a
, some ammunition, a key, and more on his corpse. You can use the key to unlock the footlocker in his house (#5).
12 - Storage Room
The storage room will start out locked, but you'll be able to pick the lock or hack into the nearby computer to get it open. Inside you'll find some miscellaneous items: mines, ammunition, meds, a
, Grady's safe, and more. Inside the safe you'll discover some
-- the "package" Grady mentioned in his note (#8).
After taking the nightwear, a raider named Lug-Nut will storm into the room and demand it from you. If you want, you can just give it to him and avoid bloodshed, or you can pass a speech check and make him leave peaceably, or you can fight him for it. Lug-Nut is roughly the same as every other raider in the wasteland, and so he shouldn't be difficult to kill.
13 - Dr. Lesko's Lab
Besides Dr. Lesko, you'll also find an assortment of ammunition and meds in the lab. After completing the quest, Dr. Lesko will move to his shack in Grayditch (#3).
14 - Dr. Lesko's Terminal
You'll find a
Big Book of Science
next to the terminal.
15 - Fire Ant Queen
The ant queen will drop
Ant Queen Pheromones
if you kill her.
- Entrance to Marigold Station.
- Exit to Falls Church Metro.
- Door between Marigold Station and the Ant Queen's Hatchery.