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"No, brother, you just don’t understand. It knows me. It grew with me. It changed me. It’ll be okay. You see how it protects us from the creatures it has created from our imperfect flesh, just like you used to protect me? The creatures cannot approach us. It will teach me how to control them, and then we can make this world our own. After that, who knows?"
—Istvan trying to convince Jensi not to destroy Marker 2A on Aspera.

Istvan Sato was a young man from Vindauga and a key figure during the Red Marker outbreaks in the late 23rd century.[1]


Early life[]

Istvan and his younger brother Jensi lived in the Mariner Valley compound, the poorest dome of the poor planet of Vindauga. 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. While Jensi was the glue of the family, keeping his mother and his brother from teetering over the edge of extreme poverty, Istvan had always been a bit freakish, a little bit off, obsessed with numbers and patterns, prone to sudden episodes of rage and paranoia. His mannerisms were strange and his thinking was even stranger, as he noticed shapes that nobody else saw and figured out patterns that nobody else recognized. He would often claim that a shape or pattern was calling to him to perfect it and "make it whole."

It was because of this that the two brothers became estranged from their mother, with her claiming that Istvan had "evil" living in him which needed to be driven out. One day, when Jensi and Istvan returned 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 her. He also slowly became entranced by the groceries she dropped. 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 were 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 Vindauga, leaving his brother in the slums.

Alone, Istvan 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 was his fate, he intruded on his old apartment and lived there for weeks, waiting for whoever was coming for him. One day, Jensi and his friend Henry Wandrei explored the apartment and entered the bedroom, where they were attacked by a paranoid Istvan. Istvan began to choke Jensi, unable to realize 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, which immediately caused Istvan to recognize him and smile awkwardly. After Istvan calmed down, Jensi washed the sweat and grime off him and fed him supper. However, Istvan eventually returned to his delusional state, and Jensi and Henry left the compound to go back home, both agreeing to return to the old apartment to help Istvan with food, clothing, and necessities.

Weeks later, Jensi arrived back home to his foster parents and found Istvan raiding his fridge, hungry and desperate for food. Jensi warned Istvan to leave his house, with Jensi's foster mother threatening to call the police. Hysterical and paranoid, Istvan believed his brother to be his “enemy” for calling the police on his "unloved" brother. He ran out the back door of Jensi's house, scared and worried.

Assassination of Tim Fischer[]

Istvan and Jensi did not see each other for the next four years, and at some point, Istvan lost two of his fingers. One day, Jensi found Istvan waiting for him in the middle of his apartment. Jensi, surprised and startled, wondered how Istvan found him, and his brother explained in his mental state that soon he would be on all the news vids and would become “famous” by fulfilling his "purpose". He then left the apartment, giggling like a madman while doing so.

The next day, Istvan made his way to a press conference by Councilman Tim Fischer concerning the structural integrity of the domes on Vindauga. Despite Jensi's attempt to stop him, Istvan, in his demented state, rushed towards the stage and shot the councilman in the head, before being subdued by SCAF forces and taken away.

Istvan was transported as a prisoner to an undisclosed location, where he was greeted by a small man whose skin he perceived to be gray. The man asked Istvan questions about the politician he killed and his motives for doing so, but Istvan simply replied that the voices in his head had told him to shoot Fischer. Istvan, now uninterested with his captors, started listening to the voices in his head again and soon jumped on one of the interrogators, choking him to death as instructed by the "shadow man".

After multiple unsuccessful interrogations via brutal methods, the gray man banished Istvan to an isolated planet far away from human rights or laws: Aspera, which held a penal colony for political prisoners. On Aspera, Istvan continued to be tortured by the gray man.

Encounter with the Red Markers[]

"We must be made whole again. You must take us and carry us and make us again. And when we are in that place and new-made, from there you must carry us and make us again."
—Istvan repeating what the Red Markers had been telling him.

Istvan eventually awakened in his cell on Aspera and began his new life in the penal colony. He met his fellow political prisoners, Waldron, Bill, and Michael at the lunch table in a large mess hall, and they all welcomed him to what they considered to be the worst place in the galaxy. Waldron explained that the prison was just a ring within a huge complex on Aspera, and as the planet had not been terraformed, there was nowhere for them to go even if they managed to escape the complex. Suddenly, Istvan experienced pressing headaches and a deep sound droning everything else out, before seeing shadows darting back and forth around him until everything suddenly disappeared back to normal.

Unknown to everyone in the penal colony, the Sovereign Colonies had built a facility nearby where they had been constructing a Red Marker, Marker 2A, based on the Black Marker research from Earth. As Marker 2A finished construction, the prisoners began to feel the effects from its signal, becoming erratic in their ways and slowly going insane. Istvan's hallucinations and visions began to change as the Marker evolved, and he began to see hallucinations of people he once knew, including his mother and the deceased Tim Fischer telling him about the "marvelous Convergence" and urging Istvan to "find" them.

Eventually, the signals from Marker 2A as well as from the Kreemar Marker and the Aegis VII Marker began to converge in the penal colony, informing the scientists that something important to the Red Markers was located there. Led by Dr. Enoch Briden, the scientists visited the prison and determined that Istvan was the man the signals had been pointing to. Istvan was then brought to the Aspera Marker facility, where Briden introduced him to the strange Red Marker in the inner chamber. Both men were entranced by its unearthly glow, and Briden insisted that they start conducting tests on Istvan to determine his importance. Meanwhile, Istvan blocked everything out and continued to approach the Marker, adoring it and admiring it. The Red Marker started to envelop him, the energy vibrating Istvan to his core as his mind filled with what felt like "liquid fire". He began to hallucinate a huge apparition of the dead convict Conn, then collapsed in front of the Marker as it released a burst of energy.

By analyzing Istvan's brain waves, the science team determined that the Red Marker's signals were starting to adapt to Istvan's mind and vice versa, concluding that he must be some kind of catalyst as his mere presence was strengthening the Marker signal. After waking up, Istvan refused to leave the Marker's side, stating that this was where he belonged now. He began to talk to the Marker through the apparitions of the people he once knew, who instructed him to carry the Marker's blueprints and spread its replicas to other worlds, thus making them "whole again". Istvan agreed, promising to stay with the Marker until it had taught him everything he needed to know so he could then leave and spread its knowledge.

Eventually, Istvan's hallucinations told him to remain beside the Marker so it could keep him safe from what was to come next. The Red Marker then released a burst of energy and began a Necromorph outbreak on Aspera, while at the same time, similar outbreaks began with the Markers on Kreemar and Aegis VII.

Istvan remained next to the Marker inside its "dead space" while the Necromorphs killed everyone else in the research facility and the penal colony. Eventually, Istvan saw Jensi enter the chamber, and a hallucination of his mother began to tell him that this was simply another apparition. Istvan attacked his brother as instructed, before realizing that Jensi was in fact real, and had travelled all the way to Aspera to find him. Realizing how much his brother cared for him, Istvan instead turned to Briden and killed him with his bare hands as he came to the conclusion that the scientist did not care for him at all, and was instead using him for his importance to the Marker.

Istvan continued to admire the Marker, however, and after Jensi woke up from his beating, Istvan asked him to join him as they could both use the Marker to "do good." Istvan was convinced that the Marker could teach him how to control the Necromorphs, and he suggested that they carry the corpses around them away from the Marker so that it could bring them back to life as their "servants." Jensi was horrified by his brother's words, and concluded that the Marker's influence had finally pushed him past the point of no return. He tearfully hugged and said goodbye to Istvan before shooting him in the head.

Istvan appeared to Jensi soon after as a hallucination, encouraging him to place his gun in his own mouth instead of aiming it at the Necromorphs outside the chamber. Unable to do anything but put the gun in his mouth, due to the Marker's influence, Jensi eventually pulled the trigger.[1]


  • The premise of Dead Space: Catalyst - Istvan having an affinity for building structures in the shape of the Marker and hearing voices asking him to "make it whole" despite never having had contact with a Marker until his imprisonment on Aspera - implies that certain humans, most likely by design of the Black Marker's influence over humanity's evolution, have an inherent connection to the Markers in their DNA in order to be used as pawns to replicate them. This aspect of the lore was mentioned by co-writer Chuck Beaver in a 2021 interview, in which he described Isaac Clarke as a "herald of the Markers" for having "DNA that was compatible with the Marker signal", explaining: "[Isaac] was kind of what the Necromorph ecology looks like in its prey species; somebody to help them eat the rest of the inhabited planets".[2] It appears that Istvan in Catalyst had similarly compatible DNA as well, though the connection seems to be much stronger in his case than in Isaac's, as Istvan was feeling a compulsion to replicate the Markers long before coming into contact with one.