Two hundred and fifty years in the future, extinction threatened Mankind. Tampering with dangerous technology from the Black Marker—an ancient alien artifact discovered on Earth eighty years earlier— EarthGov hoped to save humanity. But, the Marker’s influence reanimated corpses into grotesque rampaging nightmares. Steeped in desperation, deceit and hubris, the history of the Markers revealed our ominous future.
Brothers Istvan and Jensi grew up under the poorest dome on Vinduaga. Jensi always looked after Istvan who sometimes lashed out in sudden episodes of violent paranoia. When Istvan was sent off-world to a high-security prison, Jensi was determined to follow and find a way to keep his brother safe. But, the prison guards had a horrible secret which was one that would push both brothers to the cups of something much greater and darker than they ever imagined. 
Istvan and Jensi Sato always lived in the Mariner Valley compound, the poorest dome of the poor planet of Vinduaga. Living in the slums every day with only their mother to support them, they never had the proper food or the shelter or the education. Jensi was always the glue of the family, keeping his mother and his brother from teetering over the edge of extreme poverty. He always supported his family in all of their endeavors, becoming the man of the house. Istvan on the other hand was always a bit freakish, a little bit off, obsessed with numbers and patterns, prone to sudden episodes of rage and paranoia. His mannerisms are strange and his thinking was even stranger. He noticed the shapes that nobody else saw. He figured out the patterns that nobody else recognized. It was because of this that, when they are older, the two brothers became estranged from their mother and people began noticing Istvan for the freakshow that he really was.
One day, when Jensi and Istvan returned back home from wandering around the compound, they found their mother having a seizure on the floor after picking up groceries. Jensi immediately ran to her aid and tried to revive her, but Istvan noticed the “shadow man” choking their mother to death, intentionally showing Istvan how to kill his mother. He also slowly became entranced by the groceries that she dropped. How each package revealed a secret and how the packages are each interconnected in a web, in a series and in a pattern. Jensi started to yell at him to snap out of it and contact emergency services at the vidscreen and eventually, Istvan did. Afterward, their mother was revived and committed to a mental institution. Jensi and Istvan are left to governmental foster care where they would most likely be separated. Istvan, seeing his chance for freedom started packing his belongings and asked Jensi to join him to continue their lives together. Jensi, torn between loyalty and reality abandoned his brother and joined a new family on Vinduaga, leaving his brother in the slums.
Jensi started anew and lived with a nice, quiet family in a middle-class dome on Vinduaga. He entered the education system and became an academic success. At school, he becomes good friends with Henry Wandrei who became Jensi’s first true friend in his life, free from the constraints of his odd brother. After Istvan left his brother, he became a drifter throughout the domes, scavenging the bare necessities to survive and listening to the “shadow man” in his mind. In what he believed that it was his fate, he intruded on his old apartment and lived there for weeks, waiting for whoever was coming for him.
As Jensi and Henry grew closer together, Jensi decided to show Henry his old apartment in the Mariner Valley compound. When they arrived at the wrecked apartment, Jensi asked Henry to leave as the apartment was bringing back too many bad memories and the significant police presence in the compound. Henry treated the situation as a game, smelling the scent of adventure around every corner. Jensi lagged behind and Henry continued to explore his friend’s apartment. As Henry was about to enter the bedroom door, a blotchy arm reached out the door and grabbed Henry inside. Jensi heard his muffled scream and ran for Henry. Jensi ran for the door and found Istvan on top of Henry, beating him to death and interrogating him, asking him paranoid questions and nearly killing him. Jensi tackled him and started to fight him, but since Istvan had the physical authority, Istvan landed on Jensi and started choking him, unable to realize that he was killing his own brother in his crazed insanity. Jensi, running out of options immediately wrapped his arms around his brother and tried to comfort him. Istvan recognized his brother and smiled awkwardly. After Istvan calmed down, Jensi washed the sweat and grime off him and fed him supper. When Istvan returned back to his delusional state, Jensi decided to leave him alone and he and Henry left the compound to go back home. They both agreed to return to the old apartment to help Istvan with food, clothing and necessities.
Jensi arrived back home to his foster parents after walking Henry home. He found Istvan raiding his fridge, hungry and desperate for food. Jensi warned Istvan to leave his house with Jensi’s mother threatening to call the police. Hysterical and paranoid, Istvan believed his brother to be his “enemy”, calling the police on his unloved brother. He ran out the back door of Jensi’s house, scared and worried. This would be the last time that the two brothers would see each other for the next four years. Jensi would attend a technical college on Vinduaga, studying computer programming skills and hacking. He also studied piloting which he discovered that he loved to do. Henry with his rich family ties went to a university on Earth, but flunked out and joined the same technical college as Jensi on Vinduaga. Jensi got a small apartment and a job as a picker on huge cargo ships, transferring the load from the ship to the surface of the planet. For four years, he lived his life as a man who escaped the slums and led a stable life until he found Istvan, waiting for him in the middle of his apartment. Jensi, surprised and startled wondered how Istvan found him. Istvan explained in his mental state that soon, Istvan would be in all of the news vids and he would become “famous”. Giggling like a madman, Istvan left the apartment and left Jensi with his demented premonition in his mind.
Jensi was worried about his newfound brother and the vidlogs with Henry wondering about Istvan’s plan. Henry noticed that he said that he was going to be in all of the vids. Jensi checked all of the vid notices that are happening this week and picked out four major events happening: A school being opened by a colonial authority, a press conference by politician, Tim Fischer, a political rally by David Vernaglia and the arrival of EarthGov ambassador, Jedrow Berry. Jensi and Henry agreed to try to find and stop Istvan by covering two of the events that they predicted that he would be at.
When Jensi arrived at the port awaiting the EarthGov ambassador, he did not find Istvan and he rushed to the press conference within the city square. Councilman, Tim Fischer was giving a press conference concerning the structural integrity of the domes on Vinduaga. Jensi searched for Istvan throughout the crowd, squeezing through people, pushing the crowds until he finally saw his brother. In his demented state, Istvan rushed toward the stage and shot the councilman in the head. The people paniced and the security guards immediately took Istvan down who became confused and shocked as he did not mean to kill him. Jensi tried to pull Istvan away, but was pushed away as the S.C.A.F. forces arrived to subdue Istvan and take him away. Afterward, Jensi went home and tried to find vids of the assassination done by Istvan, trying to piece together what made his brother commit murder in open daylight. He later gave up and tried to locate his brother at every police station or holding station on Vinduaga, but with no such luck. Jensi tried every level of power in the justice system until he met a military general who claimed that Istvan was alive and in custody, but would say no more. Jensi who later slowly forgot about his brother eventually stopped looking for him and started to continue living his life.
Istvan was quickly subdued and transported as a prisoner to an undisclosed location where he was greeted by a small gray man. They asked Istvan questions about the politician that he killed and who told him to kill him. Istvan kept telling him that the voices in his head told him to shoot the politician. However, the men imprisoning him became annoyed with Istvan. Istvan, now uninterested with his captors started listening to the voices in his head and soon went ballistic and jumped on one of the men and choked him. Istvan was transported again to another room and the men started to use brutal methods to get the answers that they wanted. Istvan remained silent and the gray man banished Istvan to an isolated planet far away from human rights or laws. Istvan was sent to an unknown planet where the gray man started to employ terrifying methods to interrogate Istvan. Istvan struggled to maintain his strength, despite the precision and accuracy of the interrogation methods.
Still feeling guilty for the disappearance of Istvan and after the death of his mother, Jensi received a vid from Henry who was now a security guard somewhere in the galaxy. Worried and nervous, Henry told Jensi that Istvan was alive and at a penal colony on a barren planet. Jensi’s heart leaped and asked him where his brother was. Frightened and scared out of his mind, Henry quickly whispered the name “Aspera” and cut the vid. Jensi searched the name Aspera and found an uninhabitable planet near the edge of the galaxy. Desperate to find his long-lost brother, Jensi decided to find Istvan out in the galaxy somewhere.
After days of pain and anguish, the gray man angrily gave up on Istvan and sent him to his cell on the penal colony on Aspera. Istvan awoke and ate his first lunch in months. He met his fellow political prisoners, Waldron, Bill and Michael at the lunch table in a large mess hall. They all welcomed him to the worst place in the galaxy. Istvan asked about the prison and Waldron explained that the prison was just a ring within a huge complex on Aspera. Istvan suddenly experienced pressing headaches and a deep sound droning everything else out. He saw quick shadows darting back and forth around him until everything suddenly disappeared back to normal.
Through hacking into classified military intelligence, Jensi confirmed his suspicions about Aspera and also discovered about a much bigger project happening, codenamed Operation Aspera. Jensi also discovered that there was a supply ship that made monthly runs to Aspera to deliver supplies and resources. When he was at work, Jensi disguised himself and kidnapped the security manager at the dock that he worked at, threatening to reveal the name of the supply ship. Jensi found out the name of the ship, the Eibon and started to search it's port records. He found two freight specialists currently on Vinduaga, Talbot and Swanson. Jensi met Swanson at a bar, asking about his line of work and eventually becoming friends. A week later, Jensi quit his job as a picker and broke into the other specialist’s apartment. Jensi prepared the apartment to sedate him before the Eibon left for Aspera. He hid and waited for Talbot to arrive where he knocked him on the head, instantly killing him. Shocked at his murder, Jensi cleaned the evidence and left the apartment. Afterward, the captain hired Jensi under the recommendation of Swanson to fill Talbot’s former position. Jensi was hired to work for the Eibon, leaving on the exact day for Aspera, getting one step closer to find his long-lost brother.
Istvan noticed that his fellow prisoners on Aspera are beginning to experience headaches and fear for unknown reasons. They are beginning to go insane from the Red Marker’s signals. The other prisoners began to feel these effects as well, becoming erratic in their ways and slowly going insane. Istvan’s hallucinations and visions began to change as the Marker evolved, seeing hallucinations of the people that he once knew, seeing his mother and the dead politician. Later that day, one of the other prisoners, Brian Conn lost his sanity and went completely psychotic, grabbing his fork at lunch and started to stab himself repeatedly until he eventually ripped out his throat and bleeded out. Moments later, the prison alarms sounded and the rest of the prisoners returned to their cells. The guards came in, took Conn’s bloody body and left the cell block in a matter of minutes. When the body was carried out, Henry ordered the body of Conn to be placed in one of the refrigerators as temporary cryo storage.
Dr. Enoch Briden, a devoted Unitologist and leader of the Red Marker science team introduced Istvan to the unholy and strange Red Marker in the inner chamber where both men are entranced by it's unearthly glow. Briden insisted that they should start conducting tests on Istvan, but Istvan blocked everything out and continued to approach the Marker, adoring it and admiring it. The Red Marker started to envelop him with the energy vibrating Istvan to his core. His mind filled with what felt like liquid fire. He started to hallucinate the huge apparition of the dead convict, Conn. He heard incessant screaming all around him before he eventually collapsed in front of the Marker.
Jensi and the crew of the Eibon all shocked out toward the distant stars. After their two weeks of travel, the captain tried to hail the military blockade to land on Aspera. A warning was issued over the distress channels, stating that the Aspera sector was quarantined and all ships must not enter. Jensi spotted a SCAF gunship laying down orbital mines around Aspera. The captain and the pilots sparked into action, taking evasive action to dodge the mines. Jensi managed to run toward the crew deck before the first mine detonated into the Eibon. He quickly opened a locker and started to put on a Standard Astronaut RIG before the hull breached, sucking the crew out into space and damaging the artificial gravity. Using his zero-grav boots, he walked along the underside of the ship and along the walls until he reached the last remaining life pods. He climbed in, started the ignition and flew away from the damaged Eibon toward Aspera.
Under the intoxicating influence of the Red Marker, Briden became a full-blown Unitologist zealot and claimed the Red Marker as divine and Istvan as a chosen prophet. Dr. Callie Dexter, a fellow scientist working on the Red Marker demanded Briden to stop the Marker studies until they could sort out the mess. Briden believed Dexter to be an atheist and a test of his faith and condemned Dexter to a prison cell, leaving her to think about her sins to Unitology. However, Dexter convinced the guard to transport her scientific equipment and her notes to her cell. Her fellow scientists still loyal to her sent her notes telling her about the deteriorating condition of the Marker project and Briden’s Unitologist leadership. Dexter managed to get a hold of the scans of Istvan’s brain waves. Dexter noticed that Istvan’s waves are highly abnormal. The sequence was irregular and the waveform was variable. Even worse, the Red Marker’s signals are starting to adapt to Istvan’s brain waves and vice versa.
Another pulse came from the Red Marker, this time much stronger and more intense than ever. Everyone near and on Aspera reeled and collapsed with their heads suffering from intense and acute pain. In the interrogation room-turned-morgue, one of the bodies began to morph itself with the bones snapping and the skin stretching, reattaching themselves and reconfiguring. The body soon turned into an Infector and started infecting the corpses by jabbing it's tendril into the heads of the corpses and injecting a fluid into their brains. Soon, each corpse came to life in the morgue and the talons started to emerge from their palms. Henry noticed on the security cams that a pale green moss started to spread slowly, but steadily and he also started to hear the cracking of wood in the huge pit on the floor. Then, shockingly, he started to hear a damp, sticky sound emanating from the pit. Shortly afterward, Henry started to hear screaming. The Infectors started to fly up from the pit and infected more living bodies to be converted into Slashers and other forms of Necromorphs. Each prisoner was soon infected to become horrific monstrosities in the penal colony. Henry opened the door for the riot team to fight the monsters, but they are eventually overwhelmed. Henry viewed from his observation booth the whole process of dead corpses, infecting dead corpses, creating undead corpses and killing people to make more corpses. Henry locked himself in the booth to protect himself from the monsters in the penal colony.
Jensi struggled to control the spiraling life pod as it entered the atmosphere. The re-entry flares triggered an orbital mine, slightly hindering his navigation. He aimed for what he guessed to be the penal colony and used his thrusters at the right time to slow down and ease his approach. Jensi crashed hard into the penal colony, ending up in a large chamber. He exited the pod on his damaged Astronaut RIG and grabbed a first-aid kit, two bottles of O2 and a flare pistol. He walked to a bulkhead door, but he was attacked by an Infector, desperately and furiously trying to infect Jensi. However, he retaliated and he threw it off him and shot the base of the tendril, burning the flesh and instantly killing it. A voice on the intercom introduced him to the situation and told him the path toward the security office where the voice was. As Jensi followed the path, he accidentally reached the mess hall where a horde of Necromorphs awaited him. Realizing that he had only a flare pistol, Jensi ran as fast as he could down the inner ring, escaping the monsters at the end of the hall. He tried to get the voice back, but could not hear it. Regardless, Jensi told him to close the escape door at the right time before the monsters could reach him. He leaped for the doorway and the door was automatically closed, but not before crushing a Slasher in half.
Jensi got up and found the primary interrogation room. He found a laser saw in the room and also found a scared prisoner hiding in a cabinet. He introduced himself as James Waldron, a political prisoner and a friend of Istvan Sato. Jensi agreed to take Waldron with him as they made their way to the control room in the prison colony. However, Waldron started to lose his sanity and hallucinated Jensi as his father. Now, under the influence of the Red Marker, he randomly started to beat Jensi to death with a dead guard’s helmet. Jensi fumbled with his flare pistol and shot Waldron in the stomach and the hip. He eventually burned to death and bleeded out. Jensi laid his body to rest and started to leave, but an Infector arrived to infect Waldron’s corpse. Jensi killed the Infector and dismembered the Slasher, cutting it's arms and legs off. He eventually reached the control room where Jensi knocked on the window to find the mysterious voice. He was surprised to find out that his childhood friend, Henry was the voice, but out of shock, Henry fainted at the sight of Jensi beyond the door. When Henry came to, Jensi entered the control room and learned that Istvan may be alive and was at the research station a few miles away from the prison colony. Henry and Jensi grabbed an ATV and traversed the surface of Aspera toward the research station. They both received a pre-recorded warning message to turn around or be destroyed. They continued toward the station until the ATV was struck by a mine and the both of them went flying in the air with the explosion rocking them to their cores. Jensi got up with his visor cracked and blood splattered, but still alive. Henry was unconscious and neither of them had enough air to reach the research facility.
Jensi grabbed Henry and they both ran for the facility with the both of them running out of oxygen. They ran, trying to conserve their energy and their oxygen until they reached the base. Jensi found an open airlock and ran for it, but his oxygen was finally depleted, becoming lightheaded and hallucinating his dead mother, encouraging his death. Almost dead, Jensi tried to close the airlock to allow the air to flow. The airlock refused to close and Jensi passed out with Henry on the floor. His mind slowly began to bleed away toward death until he awoke with the oxygen now flowing through his RIG. Henry managed to close the airlock and they now are both stuck in the airlock, banging on the door and hoping that someone would hear them and open it for them.
After what seemed like hours, the airlock finally opened and two female scientists, Doctors Callie Dexter and Anna Tilton, both armed with plasma rifles asked them why they are here. Jensi explained that he was looking for his brother on Aspera. Anna went ballistic and nearly shot Jensi’s head off, saying that Istvan was the reason why the facility was in chaos and infested with Necromorphs. Dexter calmed Anna down and allowed Jensi and Henry to join them to reach Istvan at the Red Marker chamber. They all continued down the corridor toward the control room until Anna stepped on a pressure mine. She told them to get back before she jumped off the mine, blowing her legs off and instantly killing her. Jensi started to cut her arms off to prevent her from reanimating, but Briden contacted them via RIG and warned them to back off before they reached the Red Marker and Istvan. They heeded the warning and ignored it and continued forward until they are trapped in a Stasis field planted by Briden. Significantly slowed and immobilized, the crazed scientist aimed his gun toward the group, but was later shot by Dexter who escaped the Stasis field. The group was contacted by Briden again who learned from Jensi that Istvan was his brother. Briden denied this and said that Istvan was the prophet who would lead Mankind into a new existence.
The group entered another room and Jensi got to work on hacking a locked door. The lights suddenly went out and a tall, thin, yet large Necromorph fell from the ventilation shafts and grabbed Henry and threw him around in the air before throwing him against the wall, snapping his neck. Jensi shot the head off the huge Necromorph and was reduced to a harmless arm trying to find them. Dexter started to hack the door and it eventually opened. Overwhelmed with Henry’s death, Jensi left his body unaltered and sadly continued toward the Red Marker. They both entered the laboratory before the Marker Chamber with guns aimed toward the few remaining scientists that are loyal to Briden. Dexter unlocked the door and they both entered the large chamber and found Istvan standing before the large Marker. Jensi rejoiced at the sight of him and tried to snap Istvan out of his hypnotizing trance. Dexter gave up negotiating and aimed to kill Istvan. Jensi tackled Dexter and they both fought for the plasma rifle, but Jensi managed to knock her out and take her gun. Jensi hit Istvan across the face again and again to try to snap him out of his trance. But before Jensi could hit him again, Istvan punched Jensi over and over again until he knocked him unconscious. Briden congratulated Istvan and praised him in the name of the Marker. Self-aware and free from the chains of the Red Marker, Istvan tackled Briden and snapped his neck, instantly killing him. Jensi came to and Istvan became relieved to have his brother back to life. He started to envision himself being the communicator to the Marker and being able to control it's power and create a world for himself and Jensi. He rambled on until Jensi decided that he knew what he needed to do. He asked Istvan to grab his gun for him from the ground and he sadly told his brother to close his eyes for a surprise. Istvan closed his eyes and Jensi shot the rifle into Istvan’s chest. Istvan collapsed on top of Jensi, falling to the ground until the last drops of life left the dead body of Istvan Sato. Jensi walked away from his dead brother and leaned against the door frame leaving the chamber. He found a huge horde of Necromorphs blocking the exit, surrounding the dead space that surrounded the Red Marker, keeping him safe. Slowly dying from internal bleeding, Jensi Sato fell to the ground and tried to aim at them only to find out that the barrel of the rifle was in his mouth. After some desperate tries to aim at the Necromorphs again obtaining the same result, he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger, erasing any evidence of the Red Marker in his mind.
- Aspera was mentioned in a text log in Dead Space 3 as it was one of the Marker test labs alongside Aegis VII and Proxima Centauri.