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.
Note: This DLC assignment cannot be attempted after beginning Ilos: Find the Conduit.
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.
One other consideration before starting this assignment: at the end 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. But 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.
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.
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 investigate 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.
- 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.
Inside, you'll encounter five batarian troopers, a Batarian Sniper, and a pack of four varren. 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. Tip: The sniper likes to hang out by the enormous fuel tank in the back of the room - blowing it up with Overload or Sabotage 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. Once it's shut down, you'll be contacted again by the unknown woman, 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 required) and the grenade upgrade box in the southern room on the first floor, and a secure crate requiring 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. He will then give you as much information as you ask for about the asteroid and Kate, and you can discuss the batarian attack with him. Simon will tell you that the asteroid is going to crash into Terra Nova and cause catastrophic damage. Not only will it destroy the colony and kill everyone on the surface, but the devastation will effectively kill the planet. If you ask about Kate, Simon says she's one of his best engineers; both she and her brother Aaron signed up together, and he hopes she won't do anything stupid. You can ask why the batarians are doing this, and Simon will respond that they're pirates and slavers, not planet killers. Simon doesn't know why they changed from just a slave grabbing run to killing the planet, but he has a warning.
Simon explains the next torch station is surrounded by live blasting caps -- giving you the X57: Avoid the Blasting Caps assignment -- and that three of his engineers are missing, which will give you the Missing Engineers assignment if you don't already have it. Simon also says the batarian leader is named Balak, but he doesn't understand why the batarians are doing this.
Blasting Caps and Second Fusion Torch
Once you leave the first fusion torch, get into the Mako and head north 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.
From the first fusion torch, head north and you will soon see the second fusion torch, as well as a ring of lights surrounding the nearby area, marking out a danger zone. When you get near to this, you will hear a message saying that there are blasting caps, and caution is advised. The area is also surrounded by three turrets. Dispatch the turrets one at a time (one to the left behind the hill, two near the fusion torch building, and one a way off to the right), being careful not to enter the danger zone. Then park the Mako and head out on foot - parking just a bit down the small valley can provide a reasonably safe approach. Warning: Entering the danger zone in the Mako with the blasting caps still active results in instant death.
Going on foot doesn't mean you can't still set off the blasting caps, however: you will still need to thread a path in between the blasting caps. A progress bar type display will appear in the bottom left of your HUD indicating how far away you are from the nearest explosive device in the mine field (you can also see them in the world as flashing blue markers and on your radar as X shapes). A noise will also indicate when you are getting close. Make your way in carefully, but try to angle for some of the crates that provide cover, because close to the fusion torch building is a group of two Batarian Troopers, and a pair of Batarian Rocket Soldiers.
Carefully take out the batarians without stepping on any embarrassing mines. It's possible to Throw the batarians into the blasting caps, but this can be more tricky than it's worth. Once the enemies are dealt with, or even while they're merely reeling from your squad's biotic prowess, you can shut off the blasting caps from a console just outside the front door.
Inside, you will be confronted by 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.
You can head up onto the raised platform (which has cover) to give you an advantage in disposing of the various enemies. 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.
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
After you leave the second fusion torch, walk back through the disabled blasting caps and get into the Mako. Drive north-west, over the mountain range until you see the last fusion torch. Again you will find six armor-sheathed turrets guarding it - four quite near the building and two a bit further 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.
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 Easy Decryption Storage Locker in the southern room on the main floor, as well, before you leave the facility. In addition, there's a Secure Crate requiring 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. He 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.
Note: If you shoot at Charn or his buddies before you talk to them, they will immediately attack you without conversing.
Main Facility and Balak
The main facility of X57 is in the mountain north-east 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 killing the turrets, you can also just blitz quickly to the entrance and run inside, avoiding the whole battle.
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 enemies in the main room consist of six Batarian Troopers, three Batarian Shock Troopers, two Batarian Engineers, and two Defense Drones. You can use either the upstairs or the downstairs, the alcoves on the second level and the medical bay building, 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. Once these enemies are defeated, the doorway of a small module/chamber at the far end of the area will open revealing a seventh and final Batarian Trooper. He'll stammer out "Die Shepard!" but you should invite him to do so instead. There is a grenade upgrade box behind the large crate near the doorway, and another in one of the plant containers on the lowest level.
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.
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.
If you choose to kill him, you will have to fight through Balak himself, his two batarian Bodyguards, two Batarian War Beasts and a pair of Defense Drones. 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, but it will open up 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. 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 if available, and otherwise be careful and stay in cover.
When Balak is defeated, he threatens that humanity will pay for what it has done to the batarians and you can choose whether or not you leave him for the Alliance military or you can kill him yourself.
If you decide to let Balak go to save the hostages, you will still have two Defense Drones to deal with. Balak left behind three explosive charges, located around the room and you may have seen them while you were fighting when you entered the building. These charges will explode after a set period of time (depending on the difficulty the game is set at, this can range from 10 minutes on Casual to two minutes on Insanity) if you do not disarm them yourself. To make it harder, 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. The first bomb is located in the curved lower level, the second in the upper level of the medical bay and the third is hidden in an alcove on the second level, opposite to the medical bay.
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 you killed Balak. 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. If you went to all the survey stations before you entered the main facility, you can also tell him of the dead scientists at each one. However, he will be grateful for your actions in saving the asteroid and Terra Nova, and offer you a reward. You can choose from either quarian armor; light, medium or heavy human 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 chose to save the hostages, you can then 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.
Mass Effect 2 Consequences
- If you completed the 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 the player did not complete the Bring Down the Sky mission, 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 mission), then you will meet him on the Citadel during Citadel: Batarian Codes. If he was killed, a different batarian appears in custody instead.
- Balak (Optional)
- Batarian Engineer
- Batarian Rocket Soldier
- Batarian Shock Trooper
- Batarian Sniper
- Batarian Trooper
- Batarian War Beast
- Bodyguard (Optional)
- Charn (Optional)
- Defense Drone
- Heavy Turret
- Rocket Drone
- Level Design Contest: 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.  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.