CHAPTER 03 . PUZZLE PIECES
Konoko immediately heads to a facility called Vago Biotech, which is under attack by the Syndicate. To gain entrance to the Labs, Konoko must beat Barabas, a mutated supersoldier wielding an experimental weapon. Upon Barabas' defeat, he retreats, messaging his boss Muro that he "couldn't take her".
Inside, Konoko finds scientists being slaughtered seemingly for sport. She works her way to the tower, where she encounters her first "mad bomber". She uses his imminent detonation to clear the lobby below, where her TCTF comrades are pinned down by enemy fire. She then makes her way down to the lobby, where she and the other soldiers are ambushed by the Syndicate from above. She works her way up through the levels of this building, too, clearing out the enemy, then moves into another building with biohazardous material in a vat at the bottom. Upon descending and exiting the building, she sees a van pulling away. Muro is aboard and trying to escape.
- We see what Barabas is capable of for the first time here. He's "strong" indeed. What normal human can make a shockwave like that, or heal themselves rapidly? In hindsight, once we've seen Imago Muro's abilities, it seems that Barabas has somehow been implanted with a Chrysalis -- his similar appearance is too noteworthy to dismiss as coincidence and just write him off as one of Bertram Navarre's experiments. But either his Chrysalis is not mature, or, quite possibly, it's not a proper implant like Muro's. Perhaps it wasn't grown with his own DNA. Perhaps Muro used a sample of his Chrysalis to grow Barabas' Chrysalis. We'll never know, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising if Muro was experimenting with the techniques he would need to selectively choose who would survive in his new, post-Sturmanderung world.
- The gates to the laboratory complex are being guarded from TCTF interference by Barabas, wielding a very large experimental weapon. This is likely a reference to the myth of the oni, who sometimes guards gates and generally uses a heavy club as a weapon.
- "Puzzle Pieces" is an apt name for this level. The story seems to be skipping around like a Mexican jumping bean. First we're in some nondescript warehouse. Next we're in a factory, but wait, that's just a decoy. Now, we're in a laboratory. What is the Syndicate doing? Confusion at this point is natural. But the objective text Konoko receives is incredibly informative: the Syndicate is here to steal "experimental gene surgery equipment". We are far from knowing about the Chrysalis at this point, but in hindsight it certainly seems that Muro is trying to gain the ability to implant Chrysalises in others as was once done to him. This is an essential point in his plan, as Muro's followers will be understandably concerned if he is planning to kill everyone without a Chrysalis and he hasn't the ability to give anyone said Chrysalis. But if he didn't have the ability before now, how do we explain Barabas and Mukade? Perhaps this equipment isn't for implanting Chrysalises, but for some related purpose like making them more stable or effective (since Barabas does seem to be in an incomplete Imago state, and his suit may even be providing life support to compensate for a botched implantation).
- We learn something about Konoko's personality when she records in her diary before the fight with Barabas that she is looking forward to her "first real challenge".
- Also, this is the first time we are shown the savage side of Muro's organization on a larger scale. Scientists are being killed for no reason, either because Muro encouraged it, or because he makes no attempt to rein in his underlings' psychotic impulses. Of course, in either case, the nature of an organization always tells you something about the man who leads it.