Lady Belvedere is far too tired to go out again, but Sally and Rosé accompany Lilly on the vespene geyser hunt. Once they get into the hills near the scantids, the trip becomes much more eventful. Fortunately, Lilly hears the Dominion ground patrol before they see her group. The unit is one marine in power armor with a few lightly armored troopers. It is their bored grumbling that carries across the valley.
Lilly creeps up to a ridgeline and looks over it. From that vantage point, she sees the marine on the opposite side take a couple pot shots at a group of scantids at the top of the next ridge. Much to her surprise, the large insects go berserk. While scantids are not usually pushovers, they certainly are not as territorial as these ones seem. Rather than running away, they charge down the slope at the troops, who have turned their backs. I wonder what they’re protecting, Lilly muses. Are they high on terrazine?
The soldiers are as surprised as Lilly by the rapid reaction, and the whole unit is torn apart by giant pincers. The scantids are not interested in eating the soldiers, nor in scavenging their gear. The power armor is now in as many pieces as the marine, but some of that could help Imogen’s final repairs to the SCV suit. Lilly resolves to recover what she can—but carefully, so as not to draw the scantids’ ire. The insects have retreated back over their ridge, and as Lilly creeps closer, her eyes finally make out the telltale green puffs of smoke in the air above. Once she is close enough to look down over that ridge, she sees a small rocky outcropping from which vaporous vespene is leaking. The scantids are all over that. Interesting… that must be what’s changing their behavior. She wonders if they could be guard animals for the new refinery. That, of course, is dependent upon being able to set it up without upsetting them.
Lilly slips back down the slope to where Sally and Rosé are waiting. She reports what she has seen and asks, “Is there a way to open it up more?” If they can get a leak going somewhere else, maybe the scantids will not mind sharing. They are the largest danger here; the soldiers were killed too quickly to radio in a report.
“If we had some high-powered explosives, maybe,” Rosé suggests. “Maybe you can salvage something from that poor fella’s suit.” She tilts her head over to the marine mess. “We could blow up the reactor, but then we wouldn’t have it as a source of power.”
With the words “high-powered explosives” barely out of Rosé’s mouth, Lilly is already moving toward the scene of carnage. She surveys the remains of the soldiers, pocketing whatever might be useful, including the marine’s ID. No one in the group has his combination of build and skin color, but the document could still be a good basis for a forgery. There are a lot of people back at Saffron who are currently without papers, after all. All the comms were crushed by scantid claws, unfortunately. However, she does find a true prize, a D8 grenade. There is also a single intact pistol, which she gives to Sally. Her old friend helps her drag the body parts over to a ravine so that aerial surveillance will not find them.
In that sheltered location, Madame Rosé sets to work trying to extract the fusion reactor from the torn up power armor. Seeing the D8 grenade Lilly now has, she advises, “Uh, do be careful. Those things are very dangerous. The scantids and the grenades.”
Lilly pays the warning no heed as she climbs back up to the top of the ridgeline with her explosive. Sally tags along, and Lilly gives her a big smile, glad to be with her friend. Sally lets out a long sigh. “Some things never change, huh?” she observes.
“Nope,” Lilly agrees, though she cannot remember too many details about their old antics together. What she suggests now would surely fit right in though. “You do the grenade, and I’ll draw their attention,” she says, holding the D8 out to Sally.
Her friend’s eyebrows shoot right up. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Are you sure you’re faster than that many scantids?”
“Sure,” Lilly says with a shrug.
“Remember what just happened to those troopers? You don’t want to end up like those guys.”
“All right. You’re probably right,” Lilly acquiesces. “I’ll sneak up and plant the grenade.”
“I’ll cover you, and if it looks like it’s going poorly, I’ll attract their attention from farther away,” Sally offers.
This does not sound like a significantly better idea, but Lilly is ready for action and agrees. They might not have to shoot any scantids at all if she can be stealthy enough. She gets close, but she does not escape their notice. At the sound of some sliding pebbles, one of the scantids looks over her way and snaps its claws. Before it can decide to charge, Lilly leaps to her feet and, with a big wind up, hurls the D8.
Lilly and the other bored teenagers are loitering near the Belvedere estate again. The walled compound up on the hill is a prestige target, and this time, one of the kids has a stink bomb. Getting it over the wall takes a really impressive hurl, and it has to be done from far enough away for a quick escape. One of the other kids takes a practice throw with a rock; it does not work out well, and security catches them. While they are thus distracted, Lilly takes her shot with the actual stink bomb. She winds up and launches it in a soaring arc. It clears the wall, and she cannot see what becomes of it. From the sound of breaking glass, though, she likely got it into the manor house itself.
The grenade lands near the seams leaking green steam. Nothing happens for just long enough that Lilly wonders whether she remembered to prime it. Then there is a thundering kaboom. The scantids panic at the unexpected noise, but they are not smart enough to label Lilly as its cause. She cringes, hoping that the noise will not draw any additional attention to the area. Oops. Forgot we were trying to be quiet. Oh, well, too late now. She has destabilized the area enough that vespene is leaking from other parts of the outcropping, producing an additional access point further from scantid territory that Imogen can figure out some way to siphon.
Madame Rosé, meanwhile, has extracted the fusion reactor from the remains of the dead marine’s power armor. Lilly scoops up the heavy piece of equipment, and they head back to base.