- "Alexis. If you get this, I loved you. I would never do anything to hurt you or our son. After the sessions, I kept seeing you, but you are so mad and so angry. You are scaring me. I wanted you to stop. What was happening to me? Please come get me."
- —Nolan's guilt of killing his wife and his infant son.
Nolan Stross was a senior scientist who served aboard the USG O'Bannon and he was tasked with retrieving the pieces of the Red Marker from Aegis VII. He descended into madness after coming into possession of a Red Marker fragment. He was captured and he was transferred to Titan Station for further investigation.
The Mission over Aegis VII
- Main article: Dead Space: Aftermath
As a senior scientist aboard the USG O'Bannon, Stross was tasked with retrieving the pieces of the Red Marker (With the help of a team of engineers) and conduct research on the retrieved fragments. Stross became obsessive over a Marker fragment as he conducted experiments on it. He descended into a state of madness and he infected a corpse with a Necromorph pathogen under the fragment's influence. As the Necromorph that he created slaughtered his assistant and the two engineers, Stross fled to his private quarters in terror. Due to his Marker-induced madness, he perceived his wife and infant son as Necromorphs and he killed them.
Stross was found by Isabel Cho who was a crew member that he had an affair with and he was taken to the other survivors of the outbreak. Stross explained that the Marker fragment had to be destroyed in order for the outbreak to end. The group moved toward the ship's reactor core to do so, but Stross could not bring himself to throw the shard into the core. Isabel took the fragment from him and she destroyed it herself.
Stross and the remaining survivors are apprehended by a rescue team and he was interrogated aboard the USM Abraxis. Since he came into contact with the fragment and he was mentally affected by it, Stross was placed in cryogenic stasis alongside another crazed man who was captured weeks earlier and he was taken to Titan Station for research.
The Outbreak on the Sprawl
- Main article: Dead Space 2
During the Necromorph outbreak that was unleashed on Titan Station, Stross briefly encountered Isaac Clarke who was a fellow patient that was under the care of Director Hans Tiedemann. Both men are on balconies apart. Before the crazed Stross could explain what was happening, he spotted a Leaper climbing toward Isaac and he warned him just in time. Shortly after disappearing among the chaos, Stross continued communicating with Isaac through the video feeds by struggling to explain the situation with the Marker on Titan Station and the steps on how to destroy it. Stross ran into Ellie Langford who was another survivor who also met Isaac during the outbreak. Isaac convinced Ellie to keep Stross alive for him as the three journeyed toward the Government Sector.
Along the way, Stross became progressively worse for wear in terms of sanity and he was haunted by the hallucinations of his dead wife and child. His added delusion over the steps caused him to start acting hostile toward Ellie by biting her on the tram and threatening her with a screwdriver. Eventually, under the belief that she would be able to understand Step 3, Stross attacked Ellie by gouging her right eye out with the screwdriver. Soon after, he attempted to kill Isaac with the same tool (Ellie's eye was still attached), but he failed. Isaac quickly disarmed him and stabbed Stross in the head with the screwdriver, killing him.
It is possible that Stross recovered his senses after being mortally wounded, just like Sam Caldwell stopped having hallucinations and dropped his hostility during his final moments. He whispered "Oh God..." in a somber tone and briefly raised his hand, as if apologizing to Isaac. An audio log directed to Alexis can be found in his dead body.
Ironically, Stross is one of the smartest of individuals when it comes to the Marker's true nature when there have been thousands of scientists trying to figure it out, one explanation could be in Dead Space: Aftermath was that Stross didn't want to destroy it. He wanted to merely study it while EarthGov sought to abuse and control its power so it spoke to him, that or it tricked him into becoming more curious enough to experiment with a dead body and start the outbreak aboard the O'Bannon.
Stross seems to be very level headed after the events of the O'Bannon which is very unusual since even the most strong-willed people in the movies and games suffered immensely after the death of a loved one, but he believed that they are Necromorphs as when he speaks to his hallucinations in Dead Space 2, he acts as if they were still alive and with him. This is very similar to Dr. Kyne and his hallucinations of his wife.
For a time, Stross was able to resist the Marker's effects in Dead Space 2. He knew how to avoid EarthGov's patrols as well as Necromorphs and he was able to hold it together and offer advice to Isaac. His strongest moment occurs when Stross proposes that he and Isaac can destroy the Site 12 Marker. He also seems aware at the time that the dementia will worsen for him and Isaac, telling him, "Time is running out for me. For us."
- Should Isaac fail to counter Stross' attack, he would repeatedly stab him in the head with the screwdriver, continuously yelling, "Tell her that I am sorry!".
- On the other hand, should Isaac succeed in breaking Stross' grapple, he would wrest the screwdriver off Stross' hand and jab it through the left side of his head, killing him.
- Just as Isaac Clarke is named after the science fiction writers named Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Nolan Stross is named after the authors named William F. Nolan and Charles Stross.
- In Chapter 9, Stross breaks the fourth wall by looking directly at the camera while having hallucinations and shouting "Stop staring at me!" to the illusion of his son. However, the camera angle makes it seems he is talking to the player, making him more frightening as a human antagonist.
- In both Dead Space: Aftermath and Dead Space 2, Stross was voiced and modeled after an actor named Curt Cornelius.
- In Dead Space: Aftermath, Stross shared a likeness with the 3D animated Stross, but did not with the cell-shaded 2D animated Stross.
- After he releases the Slasher on the O'Bannon, he is seen running away from them with a tool that was similar to a Plasma Cutter with laser saws on the bracers similar to the Plasma Saw in his left hand, though he only uses it to attack his wife and son. Afterwards, he never uses it or even carries it for the rest of the film.
- Throughout the entire movie, Stross is consistently shown as being left-handed, both writing and using tools with his left hand. However, it is not as apparent in the game.
- It is odd that Ellie's eye was seen on Stross's screwdriver and it was driven through the sides as it is practically impossible to do so from the front. (Though, this is most likely because Stross gouged her eye out by attacking it from the side to pull it out.)
- On the PC version of Dead Space 2, Stross's attack on Isaac often experiences a glitch, making the game fail to register QTE inputs by the player, effectively rendering the sequence un-winnable. This has a chance of being rectified by restarting the game. If this does not help, it can be fixed by setting the resolution down to 800x600.
- His body is one of the few non-infected corpses which will relinquish an item, through stomping or otherwise. Some corpses of military officers shared this trait as well, but, oddly, Stross' head doesn't explode when you tossed it with Kinesis.
- When Isaac is wearing any of the Security Suit variants, Stross' image can be seen on the holographic display on the suit's chest.
Dead Space: Aftermath
Dead Space 2