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Altman Be Praised!

Michael Altman was the central figure of the Church of Unitology, credited as the man who first revealed the proof of alien life to Mankind: The Black Marker.[1]

He was believed by the Unitologists to have been assassinated by the Earth Government to suppress the knowledge of the Marker. The Earth Government, however, maintained the story that Altman's death was accidental[2] and he was no more than a hoaxer.[1]

Much of the details about the scientist behind the martyr are shrouded by Unitology myth. The real Altman was a scientist: A  23rd-century geophysicist who made history when he publicly revealed footage of the Black Marker at a press conference in the North American Sector.[3] These events are always twisted and blown out of proportion in Unitologist accounts as the Church portrayed this as Altman who was professing divine knowledge to millions and establishing a global religious movement.[4]


Little was known about Altman's early life. At some point he became an anthropologist (geophysicist in the book) and soon moved to the Chicxulub crater with his girlfriend Ada. He also had a varied ancestry, with his own mother being a Native American, although he did not know which tribe she hailed from.

His true appearance was described in the novel Dead Space: Martyr as being in his early 40's, having dark hair that was graying on the sides of his temples and having bluish green eyes. His appearance in Unitologist depictions are of course falsified, along with much of the rest of his life, the obvious being he was not balding and was not as old as depicted. This is because of the former military operation that covertly runs Unitology. They choose this appearance for him in order for the believers to view him more as a wise, seasoned individual, so that people would be better manipulated through the details of his apparent "martyrdom".

Chicxulub research team[]


"Altman's hasty expulsion from the project is unfortunate. His notes on the Black Marker appear incomplete and our findings thus far have been inconclusive. What notes we have recovered appear to be written in a code of his devising. It will be weeks before we can decipher them."
—Dr. Eando Dukaj[5]

During his normal work at the Chicxulub crater, Altman had begun to suffer from regular nightmares and headaches for weeks before his initial finding. During a routine scan, he detected a strange gravitational anomaly in the heart of the crater that soon began to emit a powerful signal. Attempting to share this knowledge with the public, he was eventually contacted by an individual from DredgerCorp, a covert government company who often moved into areas illegally to continue business. After the contact mysteriously died, Altman later managed to find video evidence of a DredgerCorp attempt to access to the signal and examine it. Both the men involved in the dive were killed after one of them was rendered insane. Intrigued, Altman tried to blow the whistle on the failed attempt to find the source of the signal, against the will of Ada. He was promptly taken into custody by government officials working for DredgerCorp. Impressed with his skills in finding out about their operation, Altman was given a choice to help them find the signal revealed to be coming from an artifact, or be killed to remain silent. He agreed with staying alive.

Altman was brought aboard a covert floating science station along with colleagues and Ada. He soon befriended a submarine pilot named Hendricks and was ordered to make a dive to retrieve the artifact. Beginning to suffer from the same madness as the previous attempt crew, Hendricks attacked him and Altman was forced to subdue him. Strangely, Altman was unaffected at all by the artifact except for a hallucination of Ada's mother, who finally told him what the artifact truly was: the Black Marker. After repeated dives, the Marker was eventually brought on board the station alongside a sample of strange, fleshy tissue Altman found in the water.

Because of his ability to be in close proximity to the Marker without the adverse side affects of his colleagues, those influenced by the Marker who had come to worship it as a deity began to hail Altman as an unwilling prophet. Despite this attention, Altman noticed how the station's crew had begun to split into believers and nonbelievers, and that violence and murders had begun to escalate. Realizing the power of the Marker and with the belief that the government was planning on utilizing it as a dangerous and deadly weapon, Altman escaped from the ocean facility and made an announcement about the Marker in Washington, D.C.

Altman was soon recaptured and bore witness to a sudden Necromorph infection brought about by an insane scientist injecting himself with the tissue sample found with the Marker; the outbreak destroyed the facility and killed all of the staff. Altman managed to escape with the help of colleagues, all of whom were eventually killed by the creatures. Hoping to find the missing Ada and escape, Altman returned to the shores near Chicxulub but realised that he could stop the Marker. Fighting his way back inside the facility, he replicated the Marker's genetic code and signal in an attempt to calm it. Eventually, it worked and Altman destroyed the entire facility to ensure that the Marker would not be found again.

Craig Markoff and Stevens, two high-ranking men in the EarthGov military overseeing the project, captured Altman and killed him, using his martyrdom to found the Church of Unitology—the faith that Altman unwittingly became the Messiah of, and which both Markoff and Stevens came to believe due to the Marker's influence. The men copied the code Altman had used to calm the Marker and planned to use it as a blueprint to create a second Marker.

The two men murdered Altman by placing him into a sealed area with a spoon and a Necromorph made of three corpses including that of Krax, who had been one of Markoff's soldiers.[3]

Martyrdom and legacy[]

"…someone has to shut him up. His public out cry about the Marker is more than a nuisance. This is a matter of security."
—Eando Dukaj[5]

After Altman's death, the Government began to twist the truth about his fate to the version that the universe would come to know. Altman was apparently assassinated by the Earth Government after spreading the word of the Black Marker and of Unitology whilst working with the research team studying it. Since then, Unitologists worshipped him as a martyr figure for their faith and interpreted the Black Marker to be a sign from God.


  • The Hebrew meaning of the name Michael is "Who is like God?". In Old German, Altman means "old man" or "wise man".
  • Altman's mother is of Native American descent, while his father is of German descent.
  • The assassination of Altman on March 15 may be a reference to historical figure Gaius Julius Caesar, who was assassinated on the same date.
  • Michael Altman is the main protagonist in Dead Space: Martyr.[6]
  • B.K. Evenson, author of Dead Space: Martyr, wrote a book in the '90s titled Altmann's Tongue.
  • In the Dead Space game log "Unitology Article," Michael Altman is said to have been an anthropologist, as opposed to a geophysicist as referred to in the book Dead Space: Martyr and Dead Space 2
  • Both in name and appearance, Michael Altman bears a resemblance to the leader of Heaven's Gate, Marshall Applewhite.
  • In Dead Space: Martyr, Altman has a dream about him in a pressurized suit and wielding a weapon that shot laser-guided blades against a Necromorph capable of regeneration. This is similar to Isaac Clarke's fight, with use of the Ripper equipped, against the Hunter in Dead Space.