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The sci-fi survival horror game, Dead Space, is more than a good game with unique mechanics and a solid development team. It’s a game with an award-winning story, highly dynamic characters, and enough documented lore to make giants like Star Trek blush. Dead Space spans more than just a few video games.
It’s a franchise that uses novels, movies, and comics to further its story. And nothing elicits more confusion in those novels, movies, and comics than the ancient and mysterious Markers.
The Markers in Dead Space are a concept that’s beyond complicated. They’re inanimate but alive; they’re black but red; they’re older than the solar system but also brand new creations. They’re an enigma from top to bottom.
But, after playing four video games, reading three graphic novels, and watching two animated movies, I feel I have a pretty good idea of what these helical-shaped monstrosities are.
Welcome to a Dead Space Marker Guide.
Key Details Up Front
Don’t feel like reading my amateur archeological report on mysterious cosmological objects found on uninhabited planets in space? Too bad, it’s a doozy.
But, allow me a chance to condense my findings into something bite-sized.
The Markers are alive. Their goal is to force whatever sentient species they are closest to into abnormal evolution. That evolution turns the species into abject monsters. Those monsters converge in a planet-wide event. That event creates a sentient moon. That moon makes more Markers. The process continues.
However, I believe I can condense my findings into something even shorter.
The Markers are bad.
What are the Markers?
They are conduits for alien frequencies. They are sources of limitless, renewable energy. They are shrines to an ancient and powerful space-faring race of beings who propagate by infecting lesser beings and manipulating them into acting as reproductive organs in a cosmic-horror kind of way.
Yeah. You read that correctly.
There are two kinds of Markers: Black Markers and Red Markers. Black Markers are created off-world and sent in search of sentient species to infect. Red Markers are created on world by those infected species in an attempt to replicate the original.
This is precisely what the Black Marker wants because it, too, is sentient. Its goal is to use the minds of lesser beings to create more Markers. And once that species has built enough Markers, they all activate. They begin to reanimate the dead tissue of the infected species, turning them into undead abominations.
Those abominations act in a hive mind with the Markers and work to turn the entire infected species into dead tissue, which is then turned into necromorphic tissue. Once enough necromorphic tissue is amassed, a Convergence event is triggered.
A Convergence event is where all the necromorphs, all the dead tissue, and all the Markers rise into the sky and converge. They mold and morph together to form a small moon… of flesh. This moon of dead tissue uses the dense Markers for its core and the reanimated dead flesh of the infected species for everything else.
This sentient moon of writhing flesh is called a Brethren Moon. Brethren Moons create Black Markers and shoot them off into space at whichever sentient species is closest, starting the horrific process over again.
Related read: Dead Space Necromorph Guide.
Where do Markers Come from?
If we are speaking of the ultimate origins of these Markers, that, unfortunately, is unknown. But, if we are speaking of specific Markers, like the one found on Aegis 7 in Dead Space 1, the one on Titan Station in Dead Space 2, and the several on Tau Volantis in Dead Space 3, then we do know precisely where they came from.
Let’s start with the original Marker that began this whole shit show in the first place. The Black Marker found on Earth.
So, you know Brethren Moons create Black Markers and shoot them at species they wish to infect. Well, it turns out a Black Marker landed on Earth thousands of years ago and we just never knew.
During a mining operation in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists and researchers discover a Black Marker. And believe it or not, humans are actually pretty intelligent about it.
One of the lead scientists, a man by the name of Michael Altman, was able to decipher the Markers and learned what their purpose was. He discovered their goal was to get humans hooked on their limitless supply of energy, manipulate humans to build more of themselves, and then turn everyone into mutated horrors.
Altman straight up sabotaged the research project and sunk the Marker back to the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, this is where the ugliness of human behavior raises its head.
EarthGov, dealing with overpopulation and serious energy needs, saw the Markers as humanity’s hope for survival. They didn’t entirely care about Altman’s findings; they just wanted energy. Limitless energy. Thus, when Altman sank the Marker, EarthGov was upset. So upset, they had Altman sunk to the bottom of the ocean with the Marker.
In the wake of Altman’s death, he became a martyr. People got hold of his research and findings and misinterpreted them. They thought Altman had died defending his research, fighting for the glorious and divine Marker.
They saw EarthGov as the enemy. So they formed the Church of Unitology and made Michael Altman their savior, prophet, and progenitor.
In a loose partnership, the Church of Unitology and EarthGov retrieved the Black Marker from the ocean floor once again and began tapping into its energy powers.
Little did they know that energy was infected with alien frequencies, which came straight from the Brethren Moon that launched the Black Marker out into space in the first place.
But they cared little. Suddenly, humans had the answer to all their problems. Overpopulation was no longer an issue since we could colonize the stars. And colonizing the stars wasn’t an issue since we had ceaseless energy.
Everything I just described took place no less than 500 years before the events of Dead Space 1.
Dead Space 1 Marker
The Marker found in Dead Space 1 is a Red Marker and was found by the USG Ishimura during a mining operation. It turns out that mining operation was just a cover for a team of Unitologists to recover the Marker from the planet. This Red Marker was built, at least in part, on Earth.
It was completed on Aegis 7 and was meant to be a perfect working replica of the Black Marker on Earth. Alas, shortly after completion, the facilities on Aegis 7 all suffered catastrophic disasters, fell into chaos, and were left to rot.
And by catastrophic disasters, I mean the Marker turned on, started reanimating flesh and making people crazy. The few colonists on Aegis 7 went mad, murderous, suicidal, or worse.
Hundreds of years went by before members of the Church of Unitology felt it was time to recover their lost project. Hence, the events of Dead Space 1.
Issac Clark arrives to find the Marker has been hard at work for some time, and while he doesn’t succumb to its forced evolution, he doesn’t walk away from the incident unscathed, either. The Marker left a self-replicating signal in Issac’s brain a sound-parasite if you will that never goes away and will eventually kill him.
However, Issac manages to destroy the Hive-Mind Queen at the end of Dead Space 1 and sends the Red Marker back to the planet to be pulverized, if not entirely destroyed.
Dead Space 2 Marker
The second Marker, another Red Marker, is found deep in the government sector of Titan Station in Dead Space 2. There are actually dozens of Markers in various stages of construction once you reach the Government Sector. But the only fully complete and working one is waiting for you in the Marker Chamber.
This Marker was constructed on-station from the minds of Issac Clark, Nolan Strauss, and several other survivors of necropmorph outbreaks.
That signal I mentioned earlier the sound-parasite is a frequency that infects the host’s mind and compels them to build Markers. In Dead Space 2, players will find tiny, hand-crafted Markers in every setting, showing how widespread the infection was.
The leaders of the Church of Unitology and EarthGov want more Markers. The EarthGov leaders want more Markers because of their ability to produce limitless energy, which will allow the space station to multiply.
Unitologists want more Markers because they believe the Markers are divine and foolishly think the Convergence event they bring is a good thing.
Both leaders work together to capture Issac, Nolan, and any other survivors of Marker incidents. They then force those survivors to build more Markers.
What could go wrong, right?
The Marker that sets off the Titan Station necromorph outbreak was built by Issac and Nolan. Thankfully, once Issac learns this, he stops at nothing to destroy the Marker. Dead Space 2 is the first time we hear the Marker demand, “Make us whole.”
Make. Us. Whole.
While that phrase makes sense to Issac throughout Dead Space 2’s campaign, it is actually heavy and bold foreshadowing for the events of Dead Space 3. Nicole, Issac’s dead girlfriend from Dead Space 1, haunts him throughout the story of Dead Space 2, constantly berating him to…
Make. Us. Whole.
The end of Dead Space 2 sees Issac, with the help of Ellie Langford, eliminate the Red Marker and escape into space.
If players stay to the end of the credits, they’ll be rewarded with a scene of an EarthGov general speaking with a Unitologist. The general will mention their experiment on Titan Station is gone. But their other experiments, their other Markers, are all fine and in position. The Unitologist will say it’s almost time to turn them all on.
Altman be praised.
Dead Space 3 Markers
Dead Space 3 broadens the universe for players. In the previous two games, players were told that humanity had expanded to the stars but weren’t told to what degree. In Dead Space 3, we find that humans have colonized just about everything in our solar system and several others.
We’ve stretched out far and wide across the galaxy, thanks almost entirely to the limitless energy capabilities of the Markers. And in order to expand in such a way, there needed to be a Marker on nearly every colony and station in existence.
Which is bad.
At the beginning of Dead Space 3, we discover there are indeed thousands of Markers all over the galaxy, handmade by infected humans and used to fix humanity’s energy crisis.
But also to further the reproductive goals of the original Black Marker, which is sending Brethren Moon frequencies to all its replicas. We also discover that the Church of Unitology isn’t as unified as they’d like us to believe.
A splinter group of the Church, radical, militaristic zealots who call themselves The Circle, see the proliferation of Markers as both good and bad. It’s bad in that they believe the Markers divine, and by EarthGov taking over their production, they’ve stripped that divinity for a mass-produced object.
But they also see it as a good thing since now they can activate a galaxy-wide Convergence event, bringing the whole of humanity into the loving arms of forced evolution.
This leads Issac and his rag-tag team of survivors to trace the Markers back to their very first interaction with humans, ultimately depositing the group on the frozen planet of Tau Volantis.
Tau Volantis holds a Black Marker of its own and was the sight of a necromorph outbreak that took place hundreds of years before humans showed up.
The alien species that called the planet home found a way to prevent the Convergence event and halt the necromorphs but couldn’t implement their plan before their species was wiped out.
Make. Us. Whole.
Issac begins receiving more messages and hallucinations from the Markers, demanding he makes them whole and “Turn it off.” This is in reference to the alien’s ability to halt the Convergence event and keep the Brethren Moon from combining with its Markers and necromorphs.
The messages of “Make us whole” and “Turn it off” were the Brethren Moon’s attempts at getting infected humans to reach Tau Volantis and turn off the Machine preventing Convergence.
Issac and the few humans still alive and not insane finish the alien’s plans and put a stop to the source of the signals the Markers were receiving at the end of Dead Space 3.
Why Tau Volantis is Important
In between the Church of Unitology’s building of the Aegis 7 Marker and their retrieving of it, a mission was undertaken to figure out just where the Markers were getting their signals from.
At this point in human history, we were still using the Black Marker on Earth for energy purposes, but we’d stopped short of attempting to build any more Red Markers after we saw their effects on developing colonies.
Humans knew the Black Marker wasn’t technically full of limitless energy but was actually amplifying it from somewhere, acting as a cosmic WiFi booster.
So, to further understand this alien technology, a team of soldiers and scientists from the Sovereign Colonies worked to trace the signals the Black Marker received to their source. This led them to discover Tau Volantis.
Tau Volantis was home to a race of aliens that died off hundreds if not thousands of years before humans arrived. It’s a snowy, frozen planet that’s completely inhospitable to humans.
But with advanced technology and human determination, the detachment from the Sovereign Colonies got to work figuring out what happened on Tau Volantis. They first thought Tau Volantis was the source of all necromorphic activity, the birthplace of the Markers. But they soon realized how wrong they were.
The aliens of Tau Volantis were smart. They knew they were under attack by a higher lifeform trying to control their species. Their attempts to save their species were unfruitful, but their attempts to halt the formation of a Brethren Moon were successful.
The soldiers from the Sovereign Colonies found a partially formed Brethren Moon floating in Tau Volantis’ atmosphere. As they worked to decipher the alien’s plan and bring it to fruition, they accidentally awakened the planet’s slumbering Markers.
In an attempt to contain the outbreak and not bring any Marker fragments or necromorphs back to Earth, the leaders of the mission to Tau Volantis ordered a complete wipe. They killed everyone and destroyed everything they had, erasing any evidence of their mission and stopping another outbreak in its tracks.
It turns out the aliens of Tau Volantis were almost all converted to necromorphs. The ones that weren’t converted were hell-bent on creating more Markers.
This resulted in Tau Volantis being littered with Red Markers all over its surface. Indeed, when the planet’s crust starts to thaw, Issac and his team can see countless Red Markers covering the planet.
Because of the efforts of the alien race, there exists the Machine and the Codex. Both were discovered by the soldiers of the Sovereign Colonies but were abandoned when they scrapped their mission.
Both are also incomplete. The ending of Dead Space 3 sees Issac completing the assembly of the Machine and the Codex, which ultimately destroys the Brethren Moon hanging in Tau Volantis’ atmosphere.
However, this is far from the end.
Okay, so we know Markers are alive. And we know there are at least two types of Markers. And we know the Marker’s purpose is ultimately to create a Brethren Moon. And, finally, we know that Brethren Moons make Black Markers.
But which came first? The Moon or the Marker?
Alas, there is no answer to be found. There are hardly any theories.
It’s conceivable that an advanced alien race first constructed the Markers, pouring their knowledge and wisdom into it. They thought it would gain their consciousness and propagate their species through the universe.
It’s possible that an alien species saw necromorphs and the Convergence event as merely the next step in their biological evolutionary process.
Regardless, we know that once a Brethren Moon is made, it is just as alive as we are. It thinks, plots, and does whatever is necessary for self-preservation. It also continuously spits out Black Markers into the galaxy. We do not know how many Brethren Moons there are.
We do know that once they make a Black Marker, they never lose connection with it. We know that every Brethren Moon and every Marker black and red are connected by a single consciousness that spans the universe. What happens on one planet to one Marker, all the other Markers are aware of.
This allows them to protect Markers that may be in danger. This is why, throughout Dead Space, when a character is near to destroying a Marker, their hallucinations increase, and the number of necromorphs trying to stop them is unending.
The Brethren Moon attached to that Marker knows it is in danger and does whatever is needed to prevent destruction.
Brethren Moons exist out in the farthest reaches of space. The only one ever encountered by humans is the one hanging in Tau Volantis’ atmosphere. We know that, for the most part, the Brethren Moons are in a state of hibernation.
They’ve created plenty of Black Markers and are just sitting back, letting them do their work. They’re playing the long game, knowing that taking over an entire species takes time. Hundreds and maybe thousands of years’ worth of time.
However, with the events of Dead Space 3 thousands of Red Markers being activated at once, a massive space-faring race of humans all being turned into a Convergence event at the same time the Brethren Moons woke up.
And as Issac and his team jumped to Tau Volantis and started digging around in the snow, the Brethren Moons woke up even more, concerned for their safety.
At the end of Dead Space 3, Issac destroys the Brethren Moon that’s causing all their troubles. But not before it sends out a distress call, because apparently, they can do that. The Brethren Moon sent out a message to all its kin “I’ve been attacked by humans on this planet; come help.”
Though Issac destroyed the Brethren Moon, all other Moons are now awake and moving towards Earth to finish their job.
How to Destroy a Marker
There are three main ways to destroy a Marker. Only one can work on a Black Marker that we know of.
The first option is to blow the hell out of the Marker. Drop some bombs on it, hit it with a nuke, or shoot the most enormous bullets made by man at it. That will, in some cases, destroy the Marker. But usually, it will only break the Marker down into smaller pieces, shards and slivers and whatnot.
This is problematic, as those pieces are still very much alive and emitting alien signals that will infect people. Indeed, this is how Nolan Strauss is infected, as he works near a large Marker shard. So, conventional weapons work to a degree, but they’re not perfect.
See Also: Comprehensive Dead Space Weapons Guide.
The following way to destroy a Marker is by thinking bigger. Maybe the bombs and guns we make as humans aren’t strong enough or big enough. So, what is big enough? Well, the reactor core and engines of the largest capital ships might produce enough energy to destroy a Marker.
Indeed, they have enough power to destroy Marker shards. Unfortunately, the resulting explosion of energy would most likely destroy the ship as well. Of course, we could always shoot the Marker at a star and let nuclear fission sort out the problem.
That’s definitely the most efficient way to destroy a Marker: shoot it at a star.
In Dead Space 1 and 2, Issac drops the respective Markers from the atmosphere to a planet’s surface. In Dead Space 1, he drops the Marker along with an entire continent of the planet’s crust, but that doesn’t actually destroy the Marker entirely.
It smashes it to bits, but Unitologists are able to recover many of those pieces to build another Marker.
The third and final way to destroy a Marker is by far the hardest. It is to conquer the Marker’s influence with sheer mental will. How does one do this?
At the end of Dead Space 2, Issac is beaten and broken and believes he’s done enough to prevent the Convergence event… Before he’s sucked into the innards of the Marker in a psychic showdown between his mental powers and that of the Marker’s. The final boss fight is all within Issac’s mind as he fights off the Marker’s influence.
Issac says, “I thought I could destroy you!” And his dead girlfriend the avatar of the Markers screams back, “Not if we destroy you first!” The Marker knows that Issac, its creator, holds great power over it.
And when Issac leaves the Marker, his dead girlfriend really dead now, we see the Marker is no longer glowing. It’s just a hunk of inert rock, unable to manipulate anyone or anything.
Of course, Issac still blows the entire station to smithereens to be sure the Marker is gone for good, but it shows that humans are strong enough to resist the Marker’s influence and even battle it back with mental power alone.
Question: So let me get this straight: Markers are Essentially the Sperm of Brethren Moons that Work to Infect the Minds of Intelligent Species Across the Universe and Force them Into Building more Markers which Activate and Mutate the Species Into Terrifying Murder Monsters who will Eventually Rise Into the Sky and Morph Together Into a Brethren Moon?
Question: So Let me Get this Straight: Brethren Moons are Planet-sized Heavenly Bodies Made of Humans who aren’t Humans Anymore but have been Melted Down Into a Single Consciousness Formed Around a Helical-shaped Alien Artifact that’s Sentient?
Answer: Correct. Kind of hard to wrap your head around, huh?
Question: How many Dead Space Games are there?
Answer: Technically 5. The three main games, an indie game that takes place before the events of Dead Space 1, and a mobile game that takes place in between Dead Space 1 and 2.
There also used to be online multiplayer and some extra DLC content. Alas, most of that has been scrapped and is unavailable to enjoy anymore.
Question: Why do Unitologists Worship the Markers if the Markers are Just Going to Kill them?
Answer: Unitologists are like a professional version of an insane cult. Just because they have funding and resources doesn’t mean they’re any less crazy.
Unitologists have indoctrination rooms, torture chambers, and a bunch of other unsettling aspects of their religion. They straight up believe that necromorphs are holy and the best evolutionary step humans could make.
Well, some of them. In Dead Space 1, Challus Mercer, a Unitologist scientist, believes only the non-believers and faithless are those who turn into necromorphs. Everyone else is either killed without a transformation or actually protected by the monsters.
Dead Space’s complicated history of both humans and aliens is, well, complicated. There are hundreds of years worth of material to sift through if you feel like diving down the rabbit hole.
It’s a shame that Dead Space 3 was knee-capped by their producer and received terribly by fans. Its poor performance is almost certainly why we won’t see a continuation of the Dead Space series for some time.
The Markers, Brethren Moons, and any other cosmic horror creation associated with them are terrible masterpieces of fiction. They are the unholy amalgamation of cosmic, body, and survival horror we didn’t know we needed. And they’re going to haunt the dark corners of my mind for a long, long time.
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