In the 5th chapter of the game Dead Space 1, you meet the Unitologist Dr. Challus Mercer for the first time in the Medical Deck.

At the end of the same chapter, you find yourself in a room equipped with a device that can be used to freeze subjects (considering it was in the Medical Deck, I suppose it was used for cryonics purpose).

The same room was filled with 5 or so tubes, each containing a frozen species of Slasher, which Dr. Mercer intended to bring back on Earth:

The work I have done must continue... will continue! I, Dr. Challus Mercer, shall serve as the catalyst to the salvation of our species! These specimens will return to Earth with me. I will spread their divine glory across the entire planet!

However, by the time you've spent aboard the Ishimura, you had plenty of time to realise how much in bad shape it was in general. There was barely any fuel left either, as stated by Hammond, after you fill it up:

Whatever you did, it's working. I have a fuel reading. It's only a quarter full, but that's enough to restore the orbit once you get the engine online.

There wasn't any space worthy craft to return on Earth either, let alone carry the necromorphs. The only shuttle that could possibly fly was the Executive one, but Kyne sabotaged it. Moreover, the ShockPoint Drive was destroyed:

I know you want to repair the Executive Shuttle and leave this place, but escape is impossible at this point. The shuttle ShockPoint Drive is destroyed. [...] At first, I lost hope. I tried to scuttle the ship, sabotage the systems.

When Hammond found it, it was missing a Singularity Core too, so it couldn't fly at all:

I think I've located a shuttle on the crew deck. The flight log says it needs a new singularity core.

Considering that anyone aboard the Ishimura was stuck there, and there's no way out (except the damaged Escape Pod #47, which Hammond jettisoned with a necromorph inside, even before we meet with the dear doctor), how did Dr. Challus Mercer intend to bring the necromorphs on Earth?

  • 4
    Just the little snippet you shared here has strong megalomania tones. Mad scientists don't usually pause to consider things like reality as obstacles.
    – Radhil
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 0:24
  • @Radhil While there's some truth about Dr. Challus Mercer being mad (or crazy), he was still carefully planning all his schemes. He knew what he was doing.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


A little delayed assumption/answer. I think there are a few options possible. Yes, of course Dr. Mercer is not in the best mental state at the time, the game is taking place. But there are a few aspects about his story:

  1. Dr. Mercer is a Unitologist (like a large amount of the crew is for the Aegis VII mission). And as it is stated in the game, Cpt. Matthius knew about the secret order of the ship to excavate Marker 3A. As we do not know anything about the status of Dr. Mercer in the Unitologist Church, we can not clearly tell, if he also knew about this secret order. But he may guessed, that the church might know about the mission because the large amount of Unitologists that are new the crew and after finding the marker.

    […] That is until the colony found the Marker. That was when the Church took an interest, and chose me to lead this pilgrimage. They also ensured many of the mission crew were devout. […]

    • Cpt. Benjamin Mathius

    Captain´s Report - Audio Log from Chapter 10

    […] Mercer: Only the worthless and the unbelievers. But I believe. Do you believe. Terrance? Do you?

    • Dr. Challus Mercer in dialogue with Dr. Terrance Kyne

    Mercer and Kyne - Audio Log from Chapter 2

  1. Except this assumption, he must have known, that at least the CEC was aware about the mission (as they are in charge for the mission and also sent the Kellion to investigate the broken communication). The USG Ishimura, which was the prestige object of the CEC, was too important for the company to not search for it. By this, Dr. Mercer might have planned to use any ship which will come to bring the infestation back to Earth (if it is not crashing like the Kellion did).

    […] Despite the long years of service, she was still the pride of the fleet and remained the largest Planet Cracker in the fleet. Whenever an important deep space mining project came up and the Ishimura was available, she was the first ship to be called. It was ships like the Ishimura and the dedication of the men and women who crewed her that helped make the Concordance Extraction Corporation the trusted, dependable workhorse that it was today.

    • CEC Sponsored Article

    The USG Ishimura - Background Log after Chapter 12

  1. Dr. Mercer was a very skilled scientist, as he must have managed to sequence the genome (or parts of it/ spotted the mutations) of the mutated necromorph cells. He must have done this in order to create the Hunter from necromorph and/or human tissue. Isaac also uses the DNA sample to create the poison for the Leviathan. The sample is from Mercers lab. This indicates, that he must have been familiar with the genetic structure of the necromorph cells. He could have planned to store this information (e.g. conserving the sequence data, purified DNA sample) and take the best chance to transmit it to any human outpost. As we can see by the incidents from all Dead Space media (books, comics and games), it seems that the humanity in this universe tends to use any foreign information related to the markers…

    Dr. Challus Mercer: Personal log, Doctor Challus Mercer. The specimen continues to respond well to my experiments. Its cellular fortitude, not to mention elasticity, is remarkable. […]

    • Dr. Challus Mercer

    Mercer´s Experiment 2 - Audio Log from Chapter 5

    Also Mercer performed experiments on living humans by trying to infecting them. By this he created the Hunter, indicating, that he had success with finding a reproducible pathogen (Probably from the Infectors). As the Infection (and the Infectors) are already spread across the Ishimura, he might intended to create a persistent form of the necromorph infection (like the Hunter) which could also work outside the ship and the Marker.

    […] Dr. Challus Mercer: Personal log, Dr. Challus Mercer. I now have a live subject for my study. I'm eager to validate my tissue regeneration theory. [...]

    • Dr. Challus Mercer

    Mercer`s Experiment 1 - Audio Log from Chapter 5

    The reason, that he wanted to create this persistent form could be his madness. As he indicates in chapter 5, there is a bigger plan he has. He also talks to Isaac about the Hive Mind. And as we know, the Hive Mind is just a early step of Convergence. The Brethren Moon are always interested in spreading the markers across the enlivened galaxy by manipulating intelligent lifeform into re-creating the markers. As Mercer had no chance to re-create a marker, he might had the thrive to re-create at least the necromorph pathogen and give it the chance, to spread further.

    Dr. Challus Mercer: I'm beginning to truly admire your spirit, misplaced as it may be! I think... I think you should see... The whole plan. You should not spurn the Hive Mind's offerings. You deserve to witness that, as least.

    • Dr. Challus Mercer

    Secret Lab Revealed - Audio Log from Chapter 5

  1. Something Mercer probably did not know: The Kellion was not the only ship that searched for the Ishimura. Also the USM Valor (Dead Space), the Black Beak (Salvage) and the O`Bannon (Aftermath) were aware of the position of the Ishimura or are at least searching for it. By this we can assume, that it is not that unlikely for any other humans coming to the ship and taking Mercers resistant Hunter or his data about the necromorphs DNA back to human territory.

Mercer was definitely suffering under the growing madness induced by the marker, but I also guess that he knew what he did. Perhaps he planned on the long run and saw the high possibility, that at some point his data might get into human hands, allowing the necromorphs to appear on Earth... again.

  • 1
    Hi, just to clarify; your hypothesis is not that Dr. Mercer would fly the necromorphs to Earth himself, but that he would be found by someone who would? Do you have any direct evidence of this? (As opposed to him believing he could fix the ship or a shuttle?) This is a well thought-out answer, I'm just trying to suggest ways you could make it a bit stronger.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:07
  • I think it is difficult to find a direct reference to this, because I guess he never spoke clearly about his plan (not like a Bond-villain :D). Anyway, I will try to find a kind of proof for this. But as a first hint, I guess we could look at Mercers experiments. He tested to infect living humans by directly infecting them with the pathogen/cells. I don´t see any point in this (as the Ishimura is already infested by the necromorph tissue and the swarmers) but searching for a option to get the pathogen to earth and the chance, to infect vital humans (with no need of the marker).
    – Samsara
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:20
  • As the marker is on the Ishimura (so if he intended to bring the whole ship back to earth, the marker would also be there), I guess he searched for other ways to bring the infection to human territory (the resistant, man-made Hunter, which was able to regenerate himself, the DNA-samples and his way of infecting humans In vivo).
    – Samsara
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:20
  • Wow, I'm amazed by how much happened in less than an hour. I kinda like the theory of "making things happen" without having to fly them back to Earth himself. It does sound somewhat like him.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:34
  • "HE trusts me, Doctor Kyne. He puts his life in MY hands." "What are you doing!? No! Nooooo!"
    – Clockwork
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:55

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