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"This isn't a city. Carver, all of this, THIS is the machine!"
Isaac Clarke[1]
Tauvolantis 009

The center of the Machine.

The Alien Machine, also known as the Alien City, was a gigantic device built by the aliens who inhabited Tau Volantis that was used to freeze the entire planet and halt a Convergence Event. Located beneath a huge mountain overlooking the abandoned Sovereign Colonies' research base, the city-esque Machine housed the corpses of the deceased species and their Necromorph counterparts.

The Machine's function could be reconfigured by a device known as the Codex to crush the Tau Volantis Moon instead of merely stopping its formation.[1]


"When I first saw the city, I was amazed at the statuary. They're everywhere you look - clustured together, integrated into the architecture. It wasn't until I studied them more closely that I understood. They're not statues at all but the remains of this once-great species. Willing or not, they have become an integral part of a machine of staggering complexity. They've literally paid for the construction with their very lives."
—Dr. Earl Serrano[2]
Alien Machine Concept Art

The heart of the Machine.

The massive structure of the Machine was a maze of paths and catacombs surrounded by pillars that led to the control center for the Codex. The bodies of the aliens themselves appeared to be one with the Machine, standing erect or hunched over the pathways leading to the conduit, their arms and legs seemingly fused with the stone like structures that they were pressed against.

Tauvolantis 008

The massive pillars surrounding the heart of the Machine.

Special platforms that amplified the use of kinesis and stasis were scattered throughout the Machine and were particularly situated before doors that required the decryption of the modified language used by the aliens to bar or allow entrance to certain areas. The "promenade" in particular was an area surrounded by an arch; situated before large doors and monoliths that required the manipulation to successfully activate the kinesis boost that would launch the traveler across great distances in a short amount of time. Opening all pathways allowed easier access to the Machine.

Tauvolantis 010

The bodies of the aliens surrounding the pathways.

Eroded by the passage of time, when the city was rediscovered by the Sovereign Colonies in 2311, its pathways were obstructed by thick and sticky webbing: the possible remains of the Corruption created by the Necromorph life form. Centuries later, in 2514, remnants of the deep dig team's work, scaffolding, construction material and generators still remained scattered throughout the massive structure, a sign of their incomplete work.

Tau Volantis Sky

The mountain that hid the Machine within it.

After the Convergence Event that wiped out the aliens, the Machine was hidden underneath a huge mountain. The Sovereign Colonies set up Facility One right at the base of the mountain and Facility Two on top of the mountain peak. A huge wall was set up around the perimeter, and a lift system was built on the mountain side to allow travel between the mountain top and the colony below as well as an underground "tram" system to allow an easy and quick travel of men and supplies. However, as the Scenario Five cleanse order was executed, the base was abandoned with the lifts and tram system cut off until 2514.


Halting Convergence[]

Desktop Screenshot 2023.09.18 - 07.06.18

The Machine is used to stop the Convergence Event.

In a move to prevent the completion of the Convergence Event triggered by the Markers, the aliens constructed a Machine that would freeze the planet and then pull the incomplete Moon down onto Tau Volantis to kill it. For whatever reason, they never completed the Machine, and the planet was left frozen (arresting the Convergence Event in the process). The aliens created a language that could be utilized by future species in the event of discovery, warning them of the danger and explaining how to complete the Machine when it was found. Meanwhile, the incomplete Moon started to call to lifeforms to deactivate the Machine and complete Convergence, to "Make [Them] Whole".

Events of 2314 and 2514[]

"Well, above us lies the means of turning off the Machine, but also the means to complete it. Turning it off will finish our species, completing it will save us. I had hoped to be here to witness the saving part. It would have been spectacular to witness the Moon getting pulled into the planet and crushed to oblivion - a final act by the natives - a sacrifice to save us all. But now, I must rest. Perhaps Tim will be along soon with the Codex."
—Dr. Earl Serrano's final words.[3]

Two million years later, in 2311, the Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces discovered the planet by triangulating the signal perpetuated by their own Red Markers. Research teams led by Dr. Earl Serrano found their way into the underground of the frozen and seemingly barren planet. There, they found the frozen corpses of the aliens within their city. In awe at their sheer size and majesty, the researchers then explored the city and discovered a wealth of artifacts. Little by little, the more Markers and lifeforms that they unearthed, the closer to the truth they became.

Eventually, Earl Serrano figured out what happened on the planet and tried to finish what the aliens started when they halted Convergence. Unfortunately, the spread of the Necromorph life form using the bodies of their fallen soldiers and researchers complicated the situation. Serrano's efforts were largely thwarted by General Spencer Mahad and the "Scenario Five" order was given, which entailed the eradication of all personnel and the destruction of all information on the aliens, including a Codex that could used to interact with the Machine and complete it. The planet and the Sovereign Colonies expedition remained lost to history for the next two hundred years before the accidental rediscovery of old SCAF information in 2514 by Marker researcher Damara Carver on Uxor.[4]

DS3 Alien City 02

Isaac Clarke observes a light in the heart of the Machine.

Ellie Langford, a friend of Damara, sought to complete the doctor's work and, with the help of Robert Norton and Damara's husband John, initiated the journey to the planet to stop the spread of the Necromorphs. When Isaac Clarke was brought out of hiding, Langford's efforts to reach the planet were largely successful through his understanding of Marker script. Thinking that Tau Volantis was the Marker homeworld, Isaac became plagued with hallucinations demanding that he turn the Machine off, intended to trick him into thinking the Machine was responsible for the Markers. Hounded by the Unitologists led by Jacob Danik who wanted to stop them, they raced to piece together the broken information left behind by Serrano. They learned what the late scientist had learned two hundred years prior and from there, they rebuilt a Codex from the memories of an alien specimen named "Rosetta".

Though Isaac and John Carver ventured into the heart of the Machine to stop Danik from restarting the Convergence Event, the Unitologist leader used the Codex to free the Moon from hibernation, which restarted Convergence. The Moon proceeded to grab hold of the Machine and Isaac and Carver were force to battle the massive Necromorph. Eventually, the duo managed to disable the creature long enough to reactivate the Machine with the Codex and kill the Moon.

The efforts of Isaac and Carver resulted in the halting the signal of the Tau Volantis Moon altogether. Unfortunately, before its demise, the Moon was somehow able to contact its fellow kin, who proceeded to restart the Marker signal and converge on the planet Earth to feed on its population.


DSR Turn It Off

The "Turn it off" message in Dead Space (2023).

  • According to The Art of Dead Space, the Alien Machine is an explicit homage to the derelict alien ship from Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien.
  • In Dead Space (2023), after escaping the first encounter with the Hunter in Marker 3A's room in Chapter 10, Isaac's objective will change to a message written in Marker symbols. When translated, the objective reads "Turn it off", a reference to the Machine keeping the Tau Volantis Moon frozen.
  • The Machine may have been powered with the use of a similar force as the stasis and kinesis. This was seen with the various spots which supercharged the kinesis and stasis units of Isaac and Carver. With the use of these elements, the Machine would have been able to pull something as large as the Moon out of orbit and down onto the planet.
    • It is unknown how and if the stasis capability contributed to the freezing of the planet, as the stasis technology used by humans seems to alter the passage of time in its area of effect, and does not actually freeze the target in ice.
  • It is unknown what happened to the Alien Machine after Isaac and Carver used it to kill the Brethren Moon.
    • The Alien Machine was what kept Tau Volantis and the Brethren Moon frozen. When Danik deactivated the Machine, everything thawed very quickly as Convergence resumed and then froze as quickly again when it was reactivated. During the events of Dead Space 3: Awakened, Tau Volantis seemingly remained frozen, indicating that the Alien Machine may still be intact and functional.