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Terra Nova in the skyline

After landing on this small asteroid, you were contacted by a human. Three fusion torches are being used to direct the asteroid into the path of a nearby planet. She's urged you to find the torches and shut them down.

Acquisition

After downloading the requisite DLC pack, head to the Asgard system in the Exodus Cluster and land on Asteroid X57 to begin this assignment. If you're playing on Legendary Edition, this assignment is included by default and can be done almost anytime after gaining control of the SSV Normandy.

Note: This DLC assignment cannot be attempted after beginning Ilos: Find the Conduit.

Preparation

The Normandy on approach

Most of the enemies you will face on this mission are organic, and many of them can both use Immunity to resist damage and then regenerate their health if left alone for long enough. For these reasons, you may want to bring squadmates who can deliver a lot of concentrated damage to ensure the quick defeat of each enemy you focus on before it can escape and recharge; you could also consider combining Shredder or Anti-Personnel Rounds with toxic ammunition (such as Polonium or Sledgehammer Rounds) to maximize damage and prevent regeneration. Both biotic and tech abilities will have their day if you bring them - for this mission there's definitely more than one way to skin a cat.

There are two main considerations on when to do this assignment: racking up morality points early, or obtaining high-level powerful items for late game. On one hand, this assignment provides a lot of opportunities to gain Paragon and/or Renegade points, which may help unlock dialogue choices for subsequent missions and assignments.

On the other hand, at the end of this assignment you will be able to choose a rather valuable reward. The exact item awarded will be chosen from the loot table, but you can count on it being one of the rare valuable types. It will always be chosen to fit your current level, so if you would like to receive one of the most valuable items in the game (e.g. Colossus X armor, etc) then you should wait until you've reached level 50 before undertaking Bring Down the Sky.

Note: You can return to the Normandy as often as you like during this mission, whenever you are outdoors, so you will be able to switch out your squad if desired. Also, although the voiceovers imply that you have a limited amount of time to shut down the torches, even a trip to the Citadel to buy and sell items will not actually cause you any problems.

Walkthrough

Approach

X57 has relatively even terrain

When you first approach Asteroid X57, the SSV Normandy's computer alerts you that X57 is heading toward Terra Nova too fast, and is on course to hit the planet Terra Nova within four hours. As the Mako drops on the surface to investigate, you receive an urgent message from a woman who sounds like she's in hiding. She says that 'they' are responsible for attacking the asteroid and begs whoever is receiving this message to shut down the fusion torches, before she signs off.

You can explore the asteroid's initial points of interest in any order you want, though for convenience this walkthrough will start at the closest items upon landing.

There are three fusion torch facilities on the map. All of them share the following properties:

  • The fusion torch facilities have a predetermined interior layout and sequencing regardless of the order in which you visit them. You can visit the farthest torch first instead of the one visible in the landing zone, and the interior layout and cutscenes will be the same.
  • You need to solve a bypass minigame to turn off a fusion torch, though you need not actually invest points in Decryption (it's still recommended for opening other crates around the asteroid, however).
  • The torch controls are the same in all three facilities and they're all located on the upper floors
    Shutting down a fusion torch erases all enemies remaining in the facility. If you're speedrunning and/or can otherwise afford missing out on items/experience points from fighting enemies, you can make a beeline for the controls at the second floor of the facility.
  • Once you enter a facility, you cannot go out until you've shut off the fusion torch. From the entrance you arrive at an antechamber where you can check your loadouts in preparation for the enemies further in, and it can also function as a fallback position if it comes to it.

Drop Zone and First Fusion Torch

You will land close to the first fusion torch, which is clearly visible over the rise. There is also an engineer's shack close behind you. If you explore the shack first, you'll find a technician's kit with an omni-tool inside, and a dead engineer, Mendel. Investigating his body will give you the assignment X57: Missing Engineers.

Continue toward the fusion torch to receive another message from the unknown woman. As you approach the torch, six unusual turrets will emerge from the ground: one high on the cliff to the right, four around the fusion torch, and one far to the left of the fusion torch. Unlike turrets encountered in other assignments, these only emerge from the ground when you get close to one of them, making their rockets much more difficult to dodge and largely eliminating the tactic of sniping them from a distance.

Turret Tips:

It's a dodging game with rockets and physics-defying minitanks
  • Fighting in the Mako: Concentrate on one turret at a time, starting with the two at a distance from the torch - you can sometimes gain firing angles on those without all of the other turrets able to fire back. Driving the Mako slowly forward or backward while firing will help you avoid missiles but allow reasonable aiming; double-zooming will help as well. You can also drive straight past the turrets and enter the fusion torch station quickly, but be aware that they will all start shooting again as soon as you exit the building.
  • Fighting on Foot: In many ways this can actually be easier than fighting in the Mako, though the risk of instant death is higher. The main reason is the Mako has a far longer range at which it will provoke enemy fire. Because of this, all turrets will activate and can attack the Mako. On foot, the threat range is shorter. Initially some or all turrets may activate, but typically the ones further off will deactivate (raise shields) or go idle (gun pointed down), reducing the number of rockets being fired at you at any one time. Leave your companions and the Mako somewhere and approach the most isolated turrets first. Strafe left and right constantly -- once a rocket is fired, there is no tracking, so they are easy to avoid.
Harak. Chekt! Chekt!

Once you open the inner door of the facility you learn batarians are responsible for the asteroid's troubles. Five Batarian Troopers, a Batarian Sniper, and a pack of four Batarian War Beasts await at the facility's main chamber. The first two varren will be on top of you in seconds and can be dangerous in melee, so use a shotgun to drop them or Throw to keep them back. A second pair of war beasts will be released shortly after that - you'll know they're coming when a batarian shouts "Release the varren!" Pulling back to the entrance room makes a safe place to concentrate on the nasty space wolves.

Be aware that the Sniper, in addition to his deadly but familiar Assassination ability, can use Sabotage to overheat your weapons. This can be especially awkward with a pair of varren charging you, so knock the sniper out as soon as you can, and be prepared to retreat to safety if your weapons suddenly overheat. Note: The sniper likes to hang out by the enormous fuel tank in the back of the room - blowing it up can help knock him out early.

Once you have cleared all the batarians out, proceed through the door on the second floor. You'll find the controls to shut down the fusion torch station.

Kate lays out the batarians' nefarious plans while her security brother doesn't do much securing

Following the fusion torch's shutdown, you'll be contacted again by the unknown woman, who introduces herself as Kate Bowman. She says batarian extremists have attacked the asteroid. She doesn't know why the batarians are here, but they've killed many of the personnel on the asteroid. However, she has to stop talking before she's discovered. Be sure to loot the Secure Locker (Easy Decryption) and the grenade upgrade box in the southern room on the first floor, and a Secure Crate (Average Decryption) in the room containing the torch controls on the second floor, before you leave.

As you leave the fusion torch station, you'll be shot by a nervous Simon Atwell; however, your shields will deflect the shot. You can berate him for carelessness or be more forgiving; either way he warns you the batarians are planning to drop X57 into Terra Nova and you have to shut down the other torches.

If you press him for details, he details exactly why dropping the asteroid would be bad, and you'll have to take his word for it. Note: If you have the Colonist background you can share some anti-Earth and anti-batarian sentiments with him in light of what they did to Mindoir.

He has over 4 million valid reasons to be twitchy

Simon thought they wouldn't resort to asteroid drops since it was forbidden by the Citadel Conventions, and depending on your response you can gain +2 Paragon or Renegade from this. If you ask him for enemy details at this point he only knows there are enough to give you a fight and that they take orders from a guy named Balak.

Following this, Simon can give you up to two assignments depending on whether you already got them: X57: Avoid the Blasting Caps and X57: Missing Engineers. If you already obtained these you can update him on your progress on each. You can also tell him about Kate, with whom he has an amicable professional relationship.

At the end of his info dump, Simon goes off to hide somewhere safe, so it's advisable to exhaust all his dialogue lines.

Blasting Caps and Second Fusion Torch

Main article: X57: Avoid the Blasting Caps
The first two accessible fusion torches from the drop zone

Once you leave the first fusion torch, get into the Mako and head northeast between the two mountainous ridges. Before you do this though, you can head up onto a nearby mountain that has a point of interest. There is a transmission tower that is broken but can be fixed with a short mini game or omni-gel. It gives you the location of three survey stations, one you may have already been to when you landed. Going to each of these stations helps to complete X57: Missing Engineers.

Consult the pertinent link above for in-depth material on dealing with the facility's exterior. The gist of it is to watch your step as you're entering an improvised minefield.

Don't worry too much about the drones, they're practically harmless; the engineer may pose a marginally greater threat

In the main area of this next facility there are five Batarian Troopers and a truly irritating Batarian Engineer who just loves to overheat your weapons with his Sabotage ability. There will also be up to six Rocket Drones depending on your difficulty level, but no more than two will be active at any one time.

The drones will be moving on regular patrol routes - each beginning at a recharging station on the upper platform and down the balcony, but then with one drone covering the top of the staircase and the other swinging wide out over the main room. Each time you dispose of a drone, a new drone will soon charge up from the upstairs rack to take over the old drone's patrol route, until none are left. The Batarian Engineer hangs around the second floor near the rack of inactive Rocket Drones, giving him a high ground advantage unless you prove otherwise.

They really like to camp near explosive containers, so take advantage of it

You can head up onto the raised platform on the first floor (which has cover) to give you an advantage in disposing of the various enemies. Note the various Containment Cells around the area, they're usually near enemy positions where blowing them up can help reduce the opposition. You'll probably want to take the engineer out first if possible, though if you don't hit him with enough concentrated damage all at once he may hide from you and reemerge later at an awkward moment.

Meanwhile you will have an excellent view across the main part of the room, where in addition to gradually whittling down the batarians you will be able to eliminate one Rocket Drone at a time. To eliminate the final Rocket Drone (the one whose route covers the staircase) you may want to change position to get a better firing angle, but this can be done easily once the other enemies have been eliminated.

When the room is finally clear, proceed to the second floor, up the ramp on the far left-hand-side of the room and go through the door at the top to shut down the fusion torch. Don't forget to loot a crate near the middle of the main room and a storage locker in the southern room requiring Easy Decryption on the main floor before you leave the facility. There is also a Medical Kit and a Secure Crate requiring Average Decryption on the balcony.

Aaron Bowman is executed

You will then get another message over the radio from Kate Bowman, saying that the batarians know someone's shutting down the torches and, to make things worse, intend to blow up the main facility. Before she can finish, the batarian leader Balak pulls her away. He then uses Kate's brother Aaron as leverage by holding a gun to his head, then demands to know who's shutting down the fusion torches. Kate refuses to answer and turns away. Behind her back, Balak pulls the trigger. He then orders his second-in-command, Charn, to "find this problem and deal with it".

Third Fusion Torch and Charn

Shielding turrets from long-distance attacks just invites righteous pummeling up close

After you leave the second fusion torch, walk back through the disabled blasting caps and get into the Mako. Drive northwest, over the mountain range until you see the last fusion torch. Again you will find six armor-sheathed Heavy Turrets guarding it - four quite near the building and two a bit farther away.

As with the first fusion torch, with a bit of planning you can find spots where only a few turrets can fire on you at a time while you're eliminating the more isolated ones. Destroy the various turrets, or blitz past them and enter the fusion torch building.

Ignoring the fight might be difficult with this layout, though it's still possible to rush to the upper floor

Inside the building you will find the main room divided into a "U" shape. In the first leg of the U, you will find three Batarian Troopers and a single Batarian War Beast. Eventually you'll hear "Release the varren!" and another war beast will join. Once you turn the corner into the other leg of the U, you will find two more Batarian Troopers and one Batarian Shock Trooper who uses Warp and Throw and likes to close to point blank range with his shotgun.

When you have killed them all, go through the door on the second floor and shut down the last fusion torch. And don't forget to loot a Grenade Storage Box and Storage Locker (Easy Decryption) in the southern room on the main floor, as well, before you leave the facility. In addition, there's a Secure Crate (Average Decryption) in the room with the torch controls.

When you are done shutting down the fusion torch, head back downstairs to find that instead of a message on the radio after you turn the fusion torch off, you receive a visit from Charn, who suggests they try a peaceful resolution. Note: If you shoot at Charn or his buddies before you talk to them, they will immediately attack you without conversing.

Hold it right there. This doesn't have to end in bloodshed.

Charn claims this was just meant to be a simple slave grab, but the situation's got out of hand. Balak is on a mission to destroy Terra Nova, and the Commander is in the way. Charn is under orders to kill Shepard but he's getting tired of following Balak's little crusade. You can talk to him and choose whether or not you kill him or Charm or Intimidate him into giving up and leaving. Either way you end up with a pass to X57's main facility where Balak is located. If you kill Charn, you will automatically gain the pass before exiting the base.

If you choose to fight Charn, you will face six Batarian War Beasts (usually arriving in packs of two), seven Batarian Troopers, two Batarian Shock Troopers, one Batarian Sniper, one Batarian Engineer, and Charn himself. They don't all spawn at once - usually you'll face no more than about six at a time - but it's quite a fight at higher difficulty level. On the plus side it's also quite a lot of experience points.

Main Facility and Balak

With enough crazy driving skills the Mako can be made to dance around 6 rockets at the same time

The main facility of X57 is in the mountain northeast of the third fusion torch so climb into the Mako. When you arrive, you'll find six more Heavy Turrets, and this time three of them will be moving along mobile tracks.

The easiest tactic for destroying the turrets involves driving the Mako at moderate speed in a circle in the central open area, while maintaining your aim on a fixed point (one of the turrets). Your circular path will cause almost all of the rockets to miss, and as long as you remember not to stop moving you can complete this battle without having the Mako's shield go down. It's easiest to shoot the three "fixed" turrets first, and then work on the moving ones. The moving ones also pause briefly at the far end of their tracks before heading back to their shelters, so that's always a great opportunity to fire the Mako's big gun.

If you don't need the experience points for destroying the turrets, you can also just blitz quickly to the entrance and run inside, avoiding the whole battle.

As with the other facilities, there's no exiting until you've accomplished the main objective.

It's another run and gun layout, but this time on a spacious room

Head into the facility and grab some grenades and medi-gel if needed from the stations near the desk before you enter the main room. The main room is a spacious circular one, composed of three levels connected by stairs. The upper level is mostly defined by a circular walkway with an adjoining medical wing. The ground level has the most surface area, with an office right below the medical wing. The lowest level is the most disadvantageous area tactically as it is exposed to the upper levels at all sides.

The enemies in the main room consist of up to seven Batarian Troopers, three Batarian Shock Troopers, three Batarian Engineers, and three Defense Drones. They're not all present initially; some of them emerge from a door at the lowest level. You can use either the upstairs or the downstairs, the alcoves on the second level and the medical bay chamber, to take cover and to eliminate all your enemies. The Engineers with their Sabotage attacks to overheat your weapons will create the most tricky problems, so try to take them out early. The map also has a fair amount of Fusion Containment Cells lying about, so keep an eye out whenever some hapless batarian wanders nearby (while presumably making sure you're also out of the blast radius when you make them explode).

There is a grenade storage box behind the large crate near the southern stairs, another in the dead end corner to the southeast, and another in one of the plant containers on the lowest level. There are two aid stations in the medical wing in the upper area.

Once these enemies are defeated, the doorway of a small module/chamber at the far end of the area will open revealing an eighth and final Batarian Trooper. He'll stammer out "Die Shepard!" but you should invite him to do so instead.

I don't answer to the Council! Or to you.

When all enemies are defeated, Balak will show himself. He will tell you about the troubles his people have faced and blame them all on humanity's influence. He is furious that the torches have been shut down. He sees this as an act of reprisal for humanity's actions in the Skyllian Verge, stealing territories and resources that should have belonged to the batarians, all because the Council saw a military advantage in befriending the Alliance.

If you are a War Hero, he has a particular grudge against you after the Skyllian Blitz. If you are Ruthless, he will say what he's doing is no different from what you did at Torfan. Answer as you wish, and he will also tell you that there are hostages locked away in a room with an explosive that he's prepared to detonate, unless you offer him safe passage out of the building and off the asteroid.

Some people are content to stand around like an idiot while a bomb is ticking beside them

You are now faced with a choice: let Balak go, and risk him causing havoc in the future but save the hostages; or attack him knowing you will sacrifice the hostages.

Option 1: Attack Balak and sacrifice the hostages

If you're not willing to let Balak off the hook, you will have to fight through Balak himself, his two batarian Bodyguards, two Batarian War Beasts and a pair of Defense Drones. This option gives you 25 Renegade points immediately after the conversation. The medical bay and associated staircase will now be blocked by force fields, so you'll have to stay in the main room, but all three levels are still available. The staircase Balak appeared on will also be briefly blocked, though gunfire will take care of that shortly.

The two varren will come directly for you, so it's advisable to beat a quick retreat to the lowest level, where you can deal with them without Balak overloading your weapons and powers: facing a varren at point blank range with no weapons and no powers can get awkward quickly.

As soon as the cutscene ends Balak and his goons make a beeline for the walkway above the entrance to the facility

The rest of the enemies will now have clustered down where you originally entered the room - find a good vantage point from which you can take them out one at a time. Watch out for Balak's sniper rifle Assassination attack while you're doing so, as it can one shot even a very tough Shepard on higher difficulty levels. Keep him off his feet with powers, use Immunity or Barrier if available, and otherwise be careful and stay in cover.

When Balak is defeated, you gain a final conversation with him that can play out in a few ways. He's talkative but mainly uses his mouth to threaten humanity. You can humor him, shoot at him multiple times (a warning first, then body shots), or outright kill him. If you do let him talk until he's tired of it, you have three choices: leave him for the Alliance military, leave him to die slowly, or again kill him there and then.

Option 2: Let Balak go and save the hostages

If you decide to let the terrorist go to save the hostages, you gain 24 Paragon points but you will still have two Defense Drones to deal with. Balak left behind three explosive charges, located around the facility. You may have seen them while you were fighting when you entered the building, and you will have to disarm them.

No time to dither around on Insanity, all the time in the world on lower difficulties

The first bomb is located in the curved lowest level, the second in the upper level in the medical bay, and the third is hidden in an alcove opposite the medical bay, on the same level. Defusing each bomb takes the form of a bypass minigame, and defusing the last bomb wipes any remaining hostiles off the map.

These charges will explode after a set period of time: From 10 minutes on Casual to 2 minutes on Insanity. While you're defusing each bomb, the outer timer won't move. The two defense drones will follow you around the room - you don't have to destroy them, but you'll probably at least want to use Sabotage on their weapons or otherwise distract them. On Insanity, you'll need to run while taking care not to be fatigued in order to deal with the bombs with seconds to spare.

Aftermath

After the battle, you will meet Simon Atwell again, who will either be saddened by Balak's escape if you saved the hostages, or Kate's death if the office bomb exploded. He confirms that your efforts were not in vain: the asteroid was on a direct course for Terra Nova's capital, and now that the torches have been disabled, X57 will miss the planet safely.

Simon has a few things to do before resigning

If you went to all the survey stations before you entered the main facility, you can also tell him of the dead engineers at each one. However, he will be grateful for your actions in saving the asteroid and Terra Nova, and offer you a reward: light / medium / heavy human armor, quarian armor, or, if you have at least 4 Charm or Intimidate, his own fancy omni-tool. Whichever reward you choose, you can expect one of the rarest and most valuable items of its type that's appropriate for your current level.

If you attacked Balak at the cost of the hostages, the assignment ends right after the conversation with Simon. Three charred corpses are all that remains of the former hostages if you decide to survey the blast.

Kate grieves her brother

If you chose to save the hostages, you have to free them from one of the offices and finally meet Kate Bowman. She is glad to be alive but devastated at the death of her colleagues and her brother. Kate realises she never even asked the Commander's name, and claims Shepard isn't what she expected, but she's very grateful for the help. Following your conversation with her, the assignment is marked as finished.

If you haven't found all engineers yet (or neglected to tell Simon immediately for some reason), you can talk to him about it on his desk near the entrance of the facility.

Mass Effect 2 Consequences

  • If you completed Bring Down the Sky there will be a newscast about a memorial celebration on Terra Nova.
  • If you saved Kate Bowman she will send you an e-mail thanking you. She will also be mentioned in a newscast saying she will be giving a speech on Terra Nova during the celebration about the fallen Alliance soldier.
  • If the hostages died or this assignment wasn't done, a newscast will mention that a Reverend Bowman will hold a prayer session for them. If the hostages were saved a newscast will mention Balak escaped and is still at large.

Mass Effect 3 Consequences

If you allowed Balak to escape (or did not complete this assignment), then you will meet him on the Citadel during Citadel: Batarian Codes. If he was killed, a different batarian appears in custody instead.

Enemies

Trivia

  • In an interview with Destructoid, BioWare designer Christina Norman revealed that a different designer worked on each of the three fusion torch buildings, and there was a friendly competition between them to see who could design the best torch encounter given the limitation they had of using the same building shape. [1] The result was the distinctive layouts of buildings on X57 compared to those on unexplored planets in the base game.
  • If Shepard decides to save the hostages, during their conversation with Kate, the romance theme will play. This theme usually only plays during a romance scene with a love interest after progressing enough through the relationship.

References

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