Little is known about the origins of exaltation or why the kett began practicing it in the first place, though a recorded transmission by the Primus states that exaltation "lifted the kett out of sorrow and tribulation." Initiative scientists speculate that it first began when the species reached a point of terminal genetic stagnation and decline, though however it came about, by 2819 it was the only means by which the kett could replenish their numbers. Effectively a form of asexual reproduction via viral assimilation, exaltation converts non-kett lifeforms (both sentient species like the angara as well as non-sentient animals such as challyrions and eirochs) into new kett, completely overwriting their original genetic structure in the process until nothing remains.
The full process in all its particulars as yet to be completely uncovered, but the information gained by Pathfinder Ryder's infiltration of the exaltation facility on Voeld has given the Andromeda Initiative and the Resistance a general understanding of how it is employed to convert sentient beings (in this case, angaran prisoners-of-war) into new kett fighters. Indeed, until the combined Initiative/Resistance team breached the facility, neither party was even aware of the existence of exaltation, with the angara operating under the belief that their abducted kinfolk were sent back to the kett home system as slaves.
Upon taking prisoners, the kett subject them to an intense series of genetic scans and screening procedures in order to determine their viability for exaltation, with no distinction being made between combatants and civilians. Those deemed worthy are taken to secretive and heavily fortified installations deep in kett-controlled territory, with those rejected being forced into labour camps and worked to death to service the invaders' war machine. The exact criteria used to make this distinction are not precisely known, with some evidence pointing to a preference for strong-willed individuals to be subjected to exaltation, while other data suggests that the process cannot be universally applied to all subjects, and those rejected are biologically incompatible.Archon himself. This acts as a catalyst upon the combined presence of the kett compounds, accelerating them to critical mass and rapidly transforming subjects into new kett. These new members of the species are left fanatically loyal and unaware of their previous lives, though on occasion, repressed memories have been known to resurface, much to the confusion and panic of those experiencing them. As kett gain rank and the patronage of their superiors, so too do they receive further genetic modifications, up to and including traits acquired from newer species encountered and assimilated into the Empire. So thorough is the process that nothing remains of the original species; it cannot be reversed and the captive restored as there is nothing left to restore in the first place.
Exaltation is, in many respects, very inefficient, being both time-consuming and resource-intensive to do. Following her rescue at the hands of Pathfinder Ryder and the crew of the Tempest, Moshae Sjefa noted that given their vast knowledge of genetics and biological manipulation, the kett would easily be able to use cloning as a means of replenishing their numbers. Yet for the kett, exaltation is as much religious dogma as it is reproductive strategy, the process invested with a ritualistic significance that grants it meaning far beyond producing new troops for the Empire, and those subjected to it are considered blessed, elevated far beyond the "inferior" nature of their origins. Exaltation also informs much of kett military tactics: each foe killed in battle is one less that can be converted into new kett, after all, so much of their strategic doctrine emphasizes taking prisoners as opposed to decisively destroying them outright. For example, kett assaults on angaran civilian population centres focus on destroying critical infrastructure and forcing them from their homes, using the threat of starvation and exposure to harsh environmental conditions to force their surrender. The kett also disdain the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, lest they potentially induce unwelcome mutations in their targets that make them unviable for exaltation or even contaminate their gene-lines.