Markers are strange alien artifacts that are the central focus of the Dead Space series. These monolithic constructs appear as spires of rock, shaped like two ridged horns twisting around each other. It is unclear how exactly these objects are formed or what material they are made out of, but what is known is that they are capable of generating seemingly limitless energy. Of greater significance, however, is that the Markers are responsible for creating the terrifying undead creatures known as Necromorphs.
While the Marker may appear to be a mere statue, it generates a form of signal that reanimates dead organic tissue around it, thus creating Necromorphs. How it generates this signal remains a mystery as the Markers are constructed out of seemingly inert, non-reactive materials, but the evidence of their activity is all too clear. Necrotic tissue caught within the Marker's "dead space" radius is reanimated and reshaped to suit the Marker's own purposes, indicating that the artifact itself may be intelligent in some way. The purpose of the Necromorphs is to spread and create new dead tissue for the Marker to manipulate by killing all living creatures around it.
The Marker also has a significant effect upon the minds of sentient life-forms. Humans that have been in proximity to a Marker have been known to experience symptoms of severe depression, paranoia and ultimately dementia. Such symptoms have typically culminated in acts of extreme violence among groups of humans that have fallen victim to the Marker's manipulations. In such incidents, Marker-touched individuals have committed barbaric acts of murder and even suicide as the Marker urges its victims to provide it with dead flesh to convert into Necromorphs.
The ultimate purpose of the Marker is to gather enough dead biomass to trigger Convergence, the final stage of the Necromorph life cycle in which all Necromorph tissue is fused together into a single moon-sized form called a Brethren Moon. The Brethren Moons perpetuate the Marker signals and scatter these objects across the galaxy, seeding planets capable of supporting advanced life where the Markers will actually manipulate the development of intelligent life in order to produce a species capable of recreating the Markers.
Types of Marker
The Black Marker is suspected to be a Marker initially produced by a Brethren Moon. One such Black Marker was carried to Earth 65 million years ago upon the asteroid responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. The artifact remained buried beneath the earth for centuries in the location that would become known as the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, until it was discovered and unearthed in 2214. The discovery of the Black Marker was headed by geophysicist Michael Altman, a man who somehow was able to resist the relic's mind-altering signal. As Altman was able to approach the object without going insane, many of the staff working on the excavation, unaware that they themselves were being subtly influenced by the Marker, began to look upon Altman as a divine prophet. In truth, Altman became convinced of the danger that the Marker represented and as a Necromorph outbreak occurred in the DredgerCorp research facility, he attempted to return the Marker to the crater. While Altman succeeded in sinking the Marker, EarthGov had Altman assassinated for attempting to reveal the relic's true nature to the world. Craig Markoff, an EarthGov military official and the overseer of the Marker excavation, covered up the truth about Altman's murder and founded the Church of Unitology in Altman's name. The Church became the fastest-growing religious movement in human history, stretching out into all facets of human society and clung to the conviction that the Marker was a divine symbol of transformation and rebirth.
Red Markers are copies of an original Black Marker produced by the inhabitants of a Marker-touched planet. No matter the species, a Black Marker can influence any planet’s given inhabitants (usually the apex/dominant species) to create Red Markers under the guise of limitless energy; unaware of the manipulation, said inhabitants' typical reasoning for creating duplicates is often the harvest of a natural resource for energy purposes. In reality, Red Markers merely propagate the spread of the Necromorph life form and its subsequent Convergence Event.
By design, they resemble and function like their precursors. The marked difference, however, is the red pigment which they carry. The red hue likely came from bismuth, a type of metal used to replace certain elements of the Black Marker that human scientists were lacking in order to create a perfect duplication. This particular trait may or may not cross all species who create Markers; the Red Markers created by the alien race of Tau Volantis were predominantly black, their veins the only prominent red feature.
When activated, the copies emits a highly-tuned frequency to its surroundings that, when coming into contact with dead organic tissue, reanimates the cells, thus creating Necromorphs. No matter the size of the Red Marker created, the signal's strength remains the same. Even when a Marker is destroyed, unless utterly obliterated, the carrier wave will continue emitting from its shards. Once all fragments of a Marker are destroyed, however, the signal stops and all Necromorphs created would be destroyed; reduced to a inanimate sludge unless brought back into the proximity of another Marker. The effects of living humans exposed to this frequency varies; a majority of humans are unable to decipher the signal, thus perceiving it as mere "noises", images and meanings without coherence, which ultimately causes the person to become paranoid and prone to constant hallucinations. It was hypothesized that this attributed to some undefined aspect of the individual's intelligence.
A Red Marker tends to create the illusion of a loved one. For example, during the disaster on the USG Ishimura, Dr. Terrence Kyne often conversed with his dead wife, Kendra Daniels repeatedly saw her dead brother, and Isaac Clarke saw his deceased girlfriend. A Convergence Event can be triggered by a single Red Marker alongside the mass of dead tissue created by the Necromorph contagion it perpetuated; the number of Red Markers present may merely assist in hastening the process.
EarthGov, despite their apparent awareness of a Red Marker's nature, continue to manufacture the copies in the name of creating energy resources or conducting experiments, using the research information compiled by Michael Altman. As a result the number of test labs housing Red Markers behind shrouds have been targeted and used against them by the likes of devout Unitologists like Jacob Danik and his Circle.
The original Marker discovered by Michael Altman.
The first man-made Red Marker. Produced on the planet Kreemar in the Proxima Centauri system.
The second man-made Marker produced on the planet Aspera 80 years after the Black Marker's discovery. This Marker perpetuated a Necromorph outbreak on a small penal colony which was later destroyed by the Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces.
The Red Marker responsible for the events of the first Dead Space game. This third Marker was taken to Aegis VII for experimentation, the result of which was the death of an entire colonial population which converged to form a gigantic Necromorph referred to as the Hive Mind. The Hive Mind and the Marker were sealed beneath the planet's surface and the planet was quarantined, but 200 years later the Concordance Extraction Corporation established an illegal mining operation on the planet and excavated the artifact, causing another Necromorph infestation that also spread to the USG Ishimura when the Marker was brought aboard. When the USG Kellion was dispatched in response to Ishimura's SOS, they found that the planet-cracker had been overrun with Necromorphs. Engineer Isaac Clarke was able to return the Marker to the planet's surface and defeated the Hive Mind, narrowly escaping the planet just before a large chunk of planetary mass extracted during the planet-crack crashed into the colony.
The Marker was supposedly destroyed following the collision, but the USG O'Bannon was later dispatched to Aegis VII to recover the Marker fragments which were still active. One fragment was found and returned to the O'Bannon, with any remaining fragments being destroyed when the fractured Aegis VII de-stabilized and exploded. Despite efforts made to safely contain the Marker fragment, another Necromorph infestation occurred which claimed the lives of all but four of the O'Bannon's crew. The survivors put an end to the infestation by casting the Marker fragment into the core of the ship's Shockpoint Drive, completely destroying it and the remaining Necromorphs.
Site 12 Marker
Also known as the "Golden Marker", the Site 12 Marker was built on Titan Station three years after the Ishimura incident. Many details regarding the construction process remain a mystery, but various logs suggest the Marker was either "grown" in a mineral bath or physically constructed using machinery.
The team used Isaac Clarke, Nolan Stross, and, it is implied, at least three others (Clarke and Stross are called Patient Four and Patient Five, respectively) suffering mental illness from a Marker's signal as the basis for their research. The signal had implanted specific codes into their brains at an earlier time - in Isaac Clarke's case, during the events of Dead Space - and these "blueprints" were extracted from them during sessions in the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine, using a needle through the ocular cavity (the eye) into the patient's brain.
Logs found by Isaac throughout the course of the game Dead Space 2 reveal that, to highly intelligent people, such as Nolan Stross and Isaac Clarke, the Marker's signal manifests inside their minds as 'blueprints' for the construction of a Marker; people of lesser intelligence are simply driven mad by the Marker's signal over time. To them, the signal only manifests as noise.
When Isaac arrives at an overlook above the Site 12 Marker's chamber, he is positioned above a mass of Necromorphs at its base. An apparition of his dead girlfriend Nicole appears and tells him they are coming to the Marker as Convergence is at hand. During a holographic video message from Hans Tiedemann, the sheer mass of bodies near the Marker triggers the start of Convergence. The Marker flashes and emits a noise like a fog horn followed by an upthrust of wind drawing the Necromorphs up into the air. When asking what it is doing, Nicole simply replies, "What it was made to do. Isaac, you have to make us whole." This echoes what she had said in Dead Space during Isaac's encounter with the Red Marker.
After using the Noontec Diagnostic Machine to gain the knowledge necessary to destroy the Marker, Isaac arrives at the foot of the Marker to find Nicole bathed in a bright light. Once Tiedemann is taken care of, Isaac is shocked when Nicole reveals her true motive is to kill him in order to allow the Marker to absorb its creator's body and complete the Convergence.
A fight takes place in Isaac's mind against the apparition of Nicole and shadows that look and behave similarly to The Pack. By shooting at Nicole, Isaac is able to expose the parts of his brain where the Red Marker still has an influence over him and destroy them.
Isaac emerges from his mind after defeating Nicole and destroying the Marker's influence to find the Site 12 Marker essentially dead and crumbling. Although Isaac is able to escape thanks to Ellie Langford, the reactor cores of the station become unstable, resulting in the complete destruction of Titan Station and the remains of the Marker.