Oni2:Slaves of War/Polylectiloquy

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polylectiloquy (n) RHETORIC 1. A collection of ideas from different sources, examined as a Socratic monologue. 2. A Q&A where I talk to myself.


Contents


How far after Oni should Oni 2 be?

A. Starting days after Oni ends would be interesting. There would be a lot more energy at this time period than any other point we could place the sequel at.
B. A few years -- long enough that the "new world" is shaping up. This will allow us to answer the questions left hanging at the end of Oni as to how society will turn out, or what the intermediate stage will be, anyway.
C. So far after Oni that Konoko is gone and a new generation of characters can be introduced. It would be hard to pull people into a sequel without one familiar face (not that we couldn't work out something with clones or what-have-you), but this would free us from worrying about Konoko being too powerful for a sequel.

What happened to the WCG?

A. It's taken advantage of the people's fears in order to strengthen its grip on the world and remove more freedoms in exchange for security. But let's face it, how many times have we seen this kind of Big Brother government in cautionary sci-fi already?
B. Business as usual. The most boring option. And how is the WCG going to maintain control without people having to huddle around their ACCs in the cities?
C. It's been replaced by total chaos. This would be a bleak option to go with, not to mention that it takes us in the direction of another clichéd kind of story, the Post-Apocalyptic Road Warrior genre.
D. It's fractured because the nations are starting to look out for themselves again. This would be a realistic mix between total anarchy and totalitarianism, and give us some kind of foundation for figuring out the politics of the situation. See the Factions page for details.

What happened to the TCTF?

Naturally, if the WCG sticks around, they will make it the TCTF's primary mission to take down anyone trying to use or sell the Daodan technology. If the WCG falls, on the other hand, then there will be nothing holding the international law enforcement agencies together. Therefore, we can simply assume that the TCTF will fragment in whatever way the WCG fragments.

What is Griffin up to?

First we have to consider the fact that the player made a choice in Oni 1 as to whether to spare Griffin or kill him. You can't make a sequel to a game with multiple endings unless you are prepared to write multiple plots and read the first game's save data to see which story to use. It's more practical from that perspective to just say that the player made the "right" call and preserved Griffin's life, because an Oni 2 with Griffin is more interesting than an Oni 2 without Griffin; also, Konoko killing Griffin in Oni 1 would not portend well for her when she reaches Imago, and we want her to ultimately be a good guy, not a monster, or oni.
A. He could be the head of his country's police (presumably his native country, not Japan, where Oni seems to take place).
B. He might have disliked the new nationalistic atmosphere and is heading his own "rogue" organization. What would it do?
1. Work on getting Chrysalises to people.
2. Work on keeping Chrysalises from people. Those things are dangerous! If Mai is promoting the use of Chrysalises, this would make them enemies again.
I favor the notion of B2, because if Griffin is going to be Mai's enemy again, this will give him a solid motivation. He knows that humanity can benefit from the Chrysalis in the short run but also feels strongly that giving everyone the Chrysalis will be opening Pandora's Box as the things develop inside people, so he fights to keep them out of the public's hands. He might even end up in an anti-authority position -- even though the governments will probably refuse to give them to ordinary citizens because of the risks of having a revolt by an Imago-stage populace, they might give Chrysalises to key officials to guarantee their health if the situation is dire enough. In that case, we're indeed back to a situation where Griffin has to fight to keep the Chrysalises out of the hands of politicians.

What happened to the Syndicate?

Absent Boss Muro, it seems inevitable that they would be broken into pieces by in-fighting and panic over the Cataclysm. See the Factions page for more details.

How many ACCs were there, and how many broken?

As far as we can tell, there were 417. How many were destroyed? Konoko makes it sound like all of them blew up when she sent that leet haxor random key-mashing signal out from Muro's base. However, the objective text indicates that Konoko sent out the destructive signal before the orbital transmitters were ready to send a signal to all the ACCs, thus sparing some of them. However, we're given no numbers, which leaves us free to say in Oni 2 that 90% of the ACCs blew up, or only 50%.
This leads us to an interesting situation -- if most of some countries' ACCs go offline, and their neighboring countries have more working ACCs, you have a recipe for a burgeoning World War III.

What is the nature of the pollution?

A. Industrial pollution. It's made the life outside the reach of the ACCs toxic to us.
B. Pollution from the ACCs. Cleansing the air is bound to create some nasty by-products, at least with the kind of track record that humans have for creating solutions that create more problems.
C. Weaponized viruses. Perhaps someone recklessly created a bio-weapon that got out of control.
D. Mutated viruses. Perhaps existing viruses were accidentally altered by the pollution and became more virulent.
E. Extraterrestrial origins. Life from "another world" could be producing natural (to them) byproducts, which are inherently hostile to our life. This is strongly hinted at by the unusual nature of the Daodan as well as the Screaming Cells. The weapon page for the Screaming Cannon states: "This weapon fires capsules that release a mysterious entity known as a Screaming Cell. These creatures seem to exist out of Earth phase, but feed on human lifeforce and are drawn to it when freed". This doesn't mean that all of the Wilderness came from another planet or "dimension", but consider this post by Hardy LeBel on our old forum. Quoting it here for posterity:
Well, obviously I don't have much say over what happens next, but MY plan was to take Konoko and drop her into a "road warrior" setting, where small enclaves of society were huddling in atmospheric safe zones. Outside in the badlands Daodan warlords and enforcers ruled over the unfortunate masses. But to spice things up there was to be a much bigger problem: remember the phase technology that humanity has been developing? Well, it just so happens that the entities on the other side of the 'phase veil' had started to notice US. And since they feed on our lifeforce, they decide that the Earth looks a lot like a gigantic buffet. Think the Screaming Cannon entities were a bitch? Wait'll you saw their mother...


What is on the other side of the "phase veil"? Where did the Wilderness come from?

I daresay that most of us would have totally overlooked the "phase technology" that Hardy speaks of above, but since he's drawn our attention to it, we can find mention of it in the form of the Phase Cloak and the Phase Stream Projector. These items must have something in common that we should develop on in an Oni 2, but for now the main point we can draw from this is that, if the life in the Wilderness is extraterrestrial, it probably didn't land here in a meteor or UFO. It's probably coming through a "phase veil" from another time/place/universe.
  • Another universe:
This would follow the science-fiction tradition of alternate planes of existence, following the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, and most famously explored (at least in American pop culture) by TV show Sliders.
  • Another place:
Perhaps the Wilderness comes from another world in our galaxy or physical universe. This seems more or less synonymous with "another universe" for most intents and purposes, but with the added point that we might be able to travel there some day. This notion takes on more significance if the characters of Oni 2 are finally able to "send back" the Wilderness to where it came from. Knowing that the Wilderness came from a certain part of space would mean that, perhaps one day, if we're ready for it, we could travel there and learn from that world. On the other hand, if the Wilderness is here to stay, then its coming from another planet is not especially meaningful.
  • Another time:
The end of Oni 2 reveals, Planet of the Apes-style, that the world of the Wilderness is our own world, after millennia of time has passed. The phase veil was a portal through time, whether intentional or not. The Wilderness is our unavoidable future.
Fictional scientists have been known to accidentally open gates to worlds with alien life, so this is possibly what Hardy was thinking when he introduced phase technology. The interesting question is, If a scientist one day opened a portal to another world, and bad stuff came through, wouldn't he have closed it?
A. If he was killed before he could do so, one would think that the portal would have eventually ceased functioning after the lab got overrun by hostile life.
Perhaps alien life is continuing to come through the phase veil on its own, but by what means, and in which places?
Or is the spreading Wilderness simply reflecting the success of this foreign life in starting from a single, brief point of introduction and rapidly invading our biosphere?
B. Maybe the scientists who opened up these phase portals were entirely unaware that anything was coming through. As speculated in the "What is the Daodan?" section, if the Daodan is microscopic, it might have slipped through unseen and infected life in our world. The great E.C. Segar played with that notion in a comic strip 75 years ago!
Also, if the Screaming Cells are being harvested through continual openings of the phase veil, rather than from the Wilderness, then we have a ready-made explanation for how the Daodan could be brought over by accident, continuously and in different places around the globe.

How bad is the pollution and how is the world dealing with it?

Well, the tragedy of Jamie Kerr tells us that it's going to be deadly to live anywhere near those plants, and even when the ACCs were protecting the cities, the area outside the cities was the location of a desperate, possibly losing, battle against the Wilderness. So the hostile flora are going to spread with a vengeance.
A. Some people may try to burn back the growth a la Nausicaa, and eke out an existence.
B. Many others will flee the areas that are no longer protected by ACCs. They would of course migrate to areas with working ACCs, and there would be a crush of immigrants; lots of fighting and ugliness.
C. A few may experiment with the Wilderness plants, performing Mendelian breeding and trying to get them to become compatible with Earth's life. See Oni2:Slaves of War/Neo-Biology.
D. The governments may be working on a biological weapon to kill the Wilderness.
E. Send it back to where it came from. As mentioned above, if there is a plant in the Wilderness that allows transportation through the phase veil, then perhaps there is a way to re-train this plant to target its brethren and send them back through the veil.

Does the general public get Chrysalises? How does society change?

It seems unlikely, as noted above under "What is Griffin up to?", that the governments would be okay with the general public having alien lifeforms in them, especially since the best-known Daodan host would be the anarchist Muro. Probably only world leaders, Syndicate warlords who have access to Muro's data, and the unscrupulous rich will be able to obtain Chrysalises.
The governments' main solution for the BioCrisis will be the building of new ACCs. And that process is not going to be quick, that's for darn sure. Inevitably large areas where nations are poorer will get neglected. Most of Africa would die for sure; they may have originally received support from the U.S. and Europe to build the first bunch of ACCs, but when each nation has to look out for itself, Africa will be on its own. The overpopulated nations like India and China would suffer the greatest losses in population, but then again, they're probably going to be seriously industrialized well before then, and will have plenty of labor to build new ACCs with. Smaller and less-developed nations will definitely take it on the chin, assuming they didn't already when the BioCrisis first started.

What are the Daodan Chrysalises, really?

This is the elephant in the room, isn't it? Oni never actually tells us what they are, or even where they are found. But one possible origin seems so likely that it blots out any other ideas in my mind: the Wilderness.
If we've gotten that settled, then the next question is the nature of the Daodan. What type of life is it?
A. Animal. It's true that most animals are quite mobile, but there are some that are perfectly content to find a home and stay there forever; e.g. coral and barnacles.
B. Plant. Flowering plants, in particular, benefit from outside help (from animals) to reproduce; some cannot reproduce at all without animals (Cf. the fig wasp).
C. Bacteria. Bacteria are the most symbiotic life forms. We typically assume that the Chrysalis is a single organism, but what if it's a colony?
D. Then there's the "mystery" domain of life, the organisms that are often not considered to be alive at all, but simply invasive or unusual genetic processes. In terms of complexity and independent existence, we have viruses at the high end, but as you go down the scale -- viroids, plasmids, prions, transposons -- you eventually end up with a continuous spectrum that reaches into the basic nature of genetic replication, inalienable from the actual process of life.
Animal
Pros: If it's an animal, it can be communicated with, mind-to-mind. Even if the Daodan is not quite on the same level as our minds, picture Spock floating alongside the whale in Star Trek IV; we can still learn what it wants and how it thinks.
Cons: Then again, depending on how alien the Daodan is to us, its mind could be totally inscrutable to us. Also, if the Daodan is animal, that tends to imply that there must be other Daodan-boosted animals out there, which is a possibility for later in the story of Oni, but could jumping the gun a bit if we reveal this early on. Also, the Daodan definitely behaves more like a plant or bacteria or virus, in changing another life form from the inside. The Daodan doesn't seem to have any organs of its own (although it could if we wanted it to, but that's not how it seems in Oni), so that makes it much more like one of the smaller, infective forms of life.
Plant
Pros: Plants are easier to deal with, from a story-telling perspective, than animals or bacteria. They're simpler than animals in terms of lifestyle, and they exist in a single body, so they can't spread in an untidy manner like bacteria or viruses.
Cons: If the Daodan were a plant, it probably would need to be able to survive on its own, being that plants are autotrophs -- unlike viruses, most bacteria, or animals. It's hard to picture the great Daodan organism living outside a host as a mere potted plant.
Bacteria
Pros: Being microscopic allows the Daodan to be more mysterious, and also more menacing and alien when eventually viewed through a microscope. Localizing it in the form of a simple green-celled flora or an insect or mouse-sized animal, could easily trivialize the Daodan organism that is so key to our story.
Cons: They're boring! Anything that we can do with bacteria, we can do with the "enigmata" below. Plus, the more mysterious we make the Daodan, the further outside known science it becomes, allowing us more story-telling freedom.
Enigmata
Pros: Preserves the mystery of the Daodan, especially if it's even more low-level than a virus. Cf. viroids, plasmids (rolling circles, electroporation and replicons, oh my!), prions, transposons.
Cons: It's complicated! Much easier to just say that the Daodan is a special plant. Also, if the Daodan is transferred on the genetic level, might it be contagious? That would run counter to Hasegawa's notion of the Daodan needing to be implanted, person by person. This would have story-changing implications.

How did Hasegawa discover the power of the Daodan organism?

A. Could the plant that was killing Jamie have been the Daodan? Hasegawa was a man of science. Even in his grief, he would have thought to take a sample of the plant that killed Jamie back to a lab, where he could analyze it and find an antidote so no one else would have to die. He would have found that the plant resisted all hostile pathogens, developing immunity almost instantly. This would have started his Daodan Project. (Cf. this image of the infected Jamie, who is displaying colored veins similar to the Imago effect seen in Muro and Barabas.) This is a rather unlikely coincidence, though. Surely there's a ton of different things that are harmful to humans in the Wilderness.
B. Or was it serving some significant role in the Wilderness that drew Hasegawa'a attention to it? If we just make the Daodan a regular plant in the Wilderness that has miraculous properties for humans, it seems to be missing the point. One could surmise that if the Daodan is that powerful, it must be a key part of the Wilderness. If the Wilderness is really composed of alien life, something that Oni is not clear on, then perhaps the Daodan is what allows this life to adapt to Earth. It could be that the Daodan has "infected" every one of the foreign plants in the Wilderness, and perhaps also the plants of Earth that it comes into contact with, making them dangerous for humans in the process. Since we're told that the level of pollutants continues to rise outside the reach of the ACCs, then the question is what's driving this increase in pollution. One answer is the expansion of the Wilderness. Any measures the WCG takes to destroy the Wilderness will not be effective as long as all the plants are Daodan super-powered. This gives us an all-or-nothing twist: either we get rid of the whole Wilderness before it over-runs us, or we yield to the power of the Daodan as the key to our own survival.

Is the Daodan dangerous for humans? How is it being transplanted, exactly?

Because the Daodan is foreign to our biosphere, perhaps haphazard contact with it proves lethal to our life. If Jamie was killed by the Daodan, as considered above, then we would have an answer to this question, but in fact Jamie died by Hasegawa's gun. Was she really going to die, slowly and in agony? Or was she being transformed? We can't say from the facts given, and it's hard to figure out if Bungie was placing any significance in the Imago-like veins that she is shown to have developed, or if those simply represent an infection in her bloodstream. Jamie could simply have been infected by a plant that defended itself with substances harmful to animals that might try to eat it, or else it was just minding its own business, but its alien chemistry was highly inimical to human bodies. Think of how some people have allergies to common plants like ragweed or poison ivy, and you realize that a totally foreign "flowering shrub" could very well kill someone without "meaning to".
The only fact we have to go on with the Daodan is that it had to be grown along with human tissue in a controlled environment. Later, this Chrysalis was able to be implanted in Muro and Mai. So either Hasegawa and Kerr had to "train" the Daodan to get along with human DNA, or else there was no training needed and they were simply being cautious and ethical in trying to study the Daodan on tissue instead of real people. As to how the Daodan organism is isolated and introduced to human tissue, this largely depends on the nature of the Daodan. The process is probably simplest if the Daodan is a genetic process, as considered above under "What are the Daodan Chrysalises, really?" in the Enigmata section. Then one would simply have to place some Daodan-infected cells from the Wilderness into human cells. Any specifics of the process aren't terribly important from our perspective, except for the question of whether the Daodan needs to be coaxed into new tissue/DNA, or if it takes to it easily.
One would tend to think that if the Daodan easily acclimates to any new genetic home, then the Daodan would be contagious. This is never indicated in Oni, and tends to take us in a direction we don't want to go, where the Daodan could easily spread to everyone in the world and lose its specialness. Better to keep it as something that needs to be deliberately implanted. This also leads us to the conclusion that the plants of the Wilderness that are causing the pollution (if indeed the Wilderness is the source of the pollution, as discussed above under "What is the nature of the pollution?") cannot be Earth plants which merely mutated, as there was no one intentionally implanting all of those plants with the Daodan. Therefore they must be plants native to the world that the Daodan comes from, which have already been enhanced by the Daodan.
If having the Daodan be non-contagious is the desired situation, then we can ask, Why would the Daodan perform so well in a human host when implanted properly, and yet be unable to spread without human aid? Perhaps the answer lies, not in the Daodan, but in our own immune system. If a sample of human tissue is allowed to be infected by the Daodan while it is separated from the subject's body and its immune system components, then the Daodan could replace the cells in that sample with its own improved versions. The tissue could perhaps then be re-implanted without triggering an immune response.
Kerr tells us that the Chrysalises were being grown "based on the genetic codes of" Mai and Muro. One way to interpret that is that they had extracted portions of tissue, or perhaps used their stem cells to generate a new mass of tissue, and introduced the Daodan to them; perhaps they used a sample from a plant or animal in the Wilderness that they found to be Daodan-enhanced. If the Daodan organism is something as low-level as a genetic process (see the Neo-Biology page for details), then the idea is that it can leap from species to species, so the source of the Daodan "genes" is not important. Then, when it was eventually decided to implant the Daodanized tissue back into Mai and Muro, Hasegawa and Kerr would have needed some way to take the tissue that had been modified outside their bodies and re-introduce it.
The means for this process can be found in a cutting-edge field known as regenerative medicine. Papers such as this patent application demonstrate a means by which autologous cells (one's own cells, not a donor's) can be extracted, altered, and re-implanted using a degradable matrix. As ¶30 says,
Alternatively, the tissue or cellularized (cell) sample may be treated in vitro before being placed on the scaffold layer. For example, cells (such as autologous cells) can be cultured in vitro to increase the number of cells available for seeding on the scaffold(s). The use of allogenic cells, and more preferably autologous cells, is preferred to prevent tissue rejection. In certain embodiments, chimeric cells, or cells from a transgenic animal, can be seeded onto the polymeric matrix. Cells can also be transfected prior to seeding with genetic material. Useful genetic material may be, for example, genetic sequences which are capable of reducing or eliminating an immune response in the host. For example, the expression of cell surface antigens such as class I and class II histocompatibility antigens may be suppressed. This may allow the transplanted cells to have reduced chance of rejection by the host. In addition, transfection could also be used for gene delivery. Urothelial and muscle cells could be transfected with specific genes prior to polymer seeding. The cell-polymer construct could carry genetic information required for the long term survival of the host or the tissue engineered neo-organ.
This method can work not just for replacing missing organs, but, as ¶31 says,
In particular, hollow organs, such as bladder, urethra, jejunum, esophagus, trachea, colon, and stomach may benefit from placement of the present composite as a "patch" in an area requiring tissue augmentation or regeneration. For example, regarding the bladder, if an area of the bladder is missing due to congenital defect or has been lost due to disease, injury or surgery (e.g., partial cystectomy), the patient may benefit from having the bladder area increased or restored to the original size as the particulars of the case allows.
This Daodan "patch", if it was grown from, say, pancreas cells, could then be re-introduced to the pancreas in the host and allowed to re-integrate over time. Presumably from there, the Daodan does its own thing automatically. Again, the intention behind this series of steps is to allow the Daodan to be non-contagious, but still fairly easy to implant (thus explaining how Hasegawa could have figured it out in just a few years' time), and also to mesh with what Kerr was talking about when he refers to the Daodan Chrysalis being grown outside Mai's body at first.
Considering how potent the Daodan is, and "user-friendly", it's quite convenient if our immune system can defeat the Daodan if coming into casual contact with it. One almost wonders if that was designed that way....

What is the role of the Daodan organism if it was designed?

One could simply assume that the Daodan is an alien life form like the other biota that are invading Earth from across the phase veil. If that's all we wish to make of it, then we can simply say that the Daodan is just minding its own business like any other species, doing what it needs to in order to survive. We don't ask why viruses do what they do, or even rabbits. They reproduce because that's the most basic drive of all life -- to perpetuate its genes.
If, on the other hand, we want to develop the notion that the Daodan is really crucial to the story and to the Wilderness, we might have to wonder how something so powerful, which can infect any kind of life, could possibly have come about by chance. The fact is that we have no idea what is on the other side of the phase veil. Why assume it's just plants? There could be, not just animals, but thinking animals like ourselves. These aliens might not look like us, or think like us, but if they are sufficiently advanced, then they might well have developed the Daodan on purpose.
Much speculative sci-fi agrees that, although circuits and silicon are neat-o, the "final frontier" of technology is organic, not mechanical. The near-future world of "Ghost in the Shell" represents a natural extrapolation of current technology like robotics and computers, whereas the organic frontier is something much further out. After all, living things can repair themselves, adapt themselves, and reproduce themselves. That's the magic of life, and our silicon-based inventions are pathetically primitive by comparison. Sure, we could eventually develop nanomachines that self-replicate, but they're likely to feel like a pale imitation, an inefficient attempt at recreating what living cells have been doing for eons.
So perhaps this hypothetical race that lives on the other side of the veil developed the Daodan on purpose. What purpose would it have? Well, consider the effects of the Daodan: it makes living things stronger by adapting in "real-time". Currently, life forms take generations to adapt and improve. Sometimes a distinction is made between macroevolution and microevolution. Macroevolution is said to take place over thousands or millions of years; microevolution, also known as adaptation or natural selection, takes place over a much smaller scale, perhaps a couple centuries. By contrast, the Daodan enables instant adaptation within the lifetime of a single organism -- nanoevolution, if you will.
Humans do not simply accept the existence of deadly diseases, shrugging and hoping that we eventually evolve immunity to them in a million years. We try to use medicine and science to eliminate them. Even if an expensive operation is needed to keep a single human alive, we will perform it. This sort of emphasis on the preservation of individual lives might be a natural outcome in any species that develops sufficient intelligence to be able to do something about our own health problems. Perhaps the Daodan simply represents the culmination in medical technology of this alien race.
A couple objections might come to mind. One: The Daodan needs to be implanted in someone carefully, so how is this a convenient cure-all for the aliens? Well, we can't assume that Hasegawa was "doing it right" when he developed his Daodan implantation process. It could be much simpler for the creators of the Daodan to implant it (picture someone administering a shot of medicine to a pouting child, then giving them a lollipop; "There, all done"). What's more, we don't know what happens when two Daodan hosts have a child, but if the Daodan truly inhabits all of our cells, then one could reasonably expect that the baby would automatically become a Daodan host as well. If so, then the aliens didn't even need to implant Daodan cells in anyone after the first generation. One wonders if even a child of this race would have phenomenal powers, since they have lived with the Daodan their entire lives.
Secondly, and more importantly, doesn't the Daodan have the potential to transform people into hideous, all-powerful monsters? Why design something that works that way? Well, again, Hasegawa only saw the Daodan as a great way to adapt people to the growing pollution. He probably had no idea of the extent of its transformative powers, and it certainly didn't come with an instruction manual. Thus, it could be that the Daodan is not being implanted/grown properly in hosts. A better explanation, at least for Mai's sake, might be that the Daodan host requires some training or education in order to handle their Daodan abilities properly. Then it becomes a case of "mind over matter", and if a host fails to control their Daodan mentally, they end up like Muro. The stage of development called "Imago" in Oni could well be a false or undesired result, brought about by allowing the Daodan to run rampant.

If it wasn't designed, is the Daodan helpful or harmful?

Life is mainly concerned with propagating itself. It doesn't understand or care that there are other living things around it; it simply seeks out the resources it needs, at any cost (sadly this is even true of humans, the most "intelligent" species). Thus, if the Daodan came about on its own, we would do well to consider whether it's really doing any good to a host at all. Enhanced survivability sounds like a great thing, but what if you always end up as a monster? Naturally we don't want to go too far in that direction because it won't yield the kind of story we want to see/play in an Oni 2. But let's just list the possibilities for thoroughness' sake. Here are the types of symbiosis found in nature:

A. Mutual obligate symbiosis. Both life forms depend on one another to complete their life cycle. At first blush, we might say that this is obviously not the case in Oni, where humans can take or leave something like the Daodan. On the other hand, Konoko thinks at the end of Oni 1 that we would come to rely on the Daodan for survival. Perhaps the humans of the "brave new world" of Oni 2 will require a Daodan to live.
B. Obligate symbiosis. The Daodan requires a host to live in. Oni doesn't really tell us where the Daodan comes from, so this may or may not be true.
C. Mutual symbiosis. The Daodan and host benefit each other. The benefit of Daodan->human is obvious, but do we benefit the Daodan in any way? Requiring a host to live in does not count as mutualism; that would be obligate symbiosis for the Daodan. We would have to provide some other, less crucial benefit to the Daodan in order for mutual symbiosis to be taking place.
D. Commensalism. Neither life form does much good for the other; they pretty much ignore each other. This is clearly not the case with the Daodan-human relationship.
E. Parasitism. One member of the relationship harms the other. This might seem to be the opposite of what the Daodan does, but how do we know that the Daodan is ultimately helping us at all? Hasegawa thought it would, but he may have known too little about the organism. Sure, the Daodan helps us in the short term, but what if it's just burning us up for fuel? Or what if it's taking us over? One of the alarming aspects of parasites is that some of them are capable of altering the behavior of their hosts. See the Neo-Biology page for examples of parasitism. Note that in many cases, the behavioral modifications are not noticeable right away. In some cases, the host is eventually destroyed by the parasite, and in some cases it merely passes out of the host after the host has done its bidding (as geyser would say, "Does a bee care?").

To be exact, the word for the Daodan's type of symbiosis, whether harmful or helpful, is endosymbiosis, meaning it lives inside its host.

Where does the Daodan gets its energy from?

If all the Daodan did was re-tool the human body a little, we could assume that it was simply running off the normal fuels of the human body: food, water, and air. But in its advanced state, it allows a host to do some pretty amazing things, like throwing around energy balls and generating force fields. Either the Daodan is vastly superior to our bodies at energy generation, or else it's receiving energy from somewhere else.
A. The Daodan is tied to the "other side". In other words, there's a sort of phase portal inside the host that draws energy from there. This only displaces the question of where the energy comes from to "somewhere else, somehow".
B. The Daodan is tied to the rest of the Wilderness. Perhaps some of the plants in the Wilderness broadcast energy, either as conventional waves or through something more exotic like "phase transference" that only the plants of the Wilderness can use. Perhaps the energy that is drawn on by the Daodan is collected by lifeforms like the Screaming Cell. Does the Screaming Cell really need all that energy for itself? Perhaps the excess energy stolen from other life collects somewhere, then is broadcast, either by the Screaming Cell's "base station" or by a third plant that serves as a kind of phase-based Wardenclyffe Tower.
One final thing to think about: if the Daodan replaces human cells with its own... and it draws its energy from the Wilderness, not food... and some people want to eradicate the Wilderness... what happens to the Daodan hosts if they find a way to destroy the Wilderness?

Whatever happened to Dr. Hasegawa?

Naturally, he's continuing his research into the Daodan. After all, his work wasn't done when the Syndicate raided his lab and he was separated from Kerr and Konoko. What was left for him to do? Well, obviously he ended up implanting Muro with a Chrysalis (forced to by the Syndicate, or did he choose to?), so much of his time would have been spent studying the progress of the Chrysalis, the same kind of work that Kerr was doing on the TCTF side. Perhaps after seeing just how powerful and uncontrollable Muro became as an Imago, he realized that his technology needed some means of being controlled. His goal was to save people from the pollution, not to create a race of monsters.
By the time of Oni 2, Prof. Hasegawa has escaped from the Syndicate and gone into hiding from the world. He's discovered that the best place to hide is in the middle of the Wilderness, where he uses his advanced understanding of the foreign plant life to survive where others could not. Perhaps he has a little blonde-haired "daughter" who looks strangely familiar… (I would love this angle, but I hope no one accuses me of ripping off Gendo Ikari). Part of the story of Oni 2 will involve finding him and learning what he knows about controlling his creation.

How does one control the Daodan?

Some or all of the following:
A. Freezing. Let's get the obvious one out of the way. It was pointed out in a console that a host could be frozen to prevent the Chrysalis from developing. However, this is not a solution for controlling a world full of people with Chrysalises, only for restraining Daodan criminals (like Muro?).
B. Suppression waves. If we choose to make this possible, we can allow energy waves to inhibit the growth of the organism so as to prevent the Imago stage. The waves could be broadcast from towers stationed throughout the cities. The only way to avoid their influence is, naturally, to live outside the cities. No ordinary citizen is going to be willing to do this, as the "outside" is likely to be a mix of Mad Max-style road wars and crazy killer plant life.
C. Rival implants. If the Daodan organism has enemies in the Wilderness, implant one of them alongside the Chrysalis to inhibit its growth. Obviously this interaction could lead to unforeseen results, which could also be a part of the plot if we so choose.
D. Block energy reception. Per my idea above that the Daodan needs to draw outside energy for its more impressive feats, if something could be done to prevent the Daodan from receiving this energy, you could avoid mutant Imago rampages by the general populace. Since humanity is clearly learning how to harness phase technology, this should not be out of the question. But obviously it can't be something like requiring people to wear a wristband, because that is bound to go awry. It needs to be a method that people can't avoid... something that is an unavoidable part of living in the city, like treated water is today. Hmm....

What was up with that Bertram Navarre guy?

Could he be in league with Hasegawa for some reason? Or is he still working under the Syndicate on his own amoral human experiments? The more interesting choice would be if Navarre had some reason to work with Hasegawa (a fact that Hasegawa perhaps keeps from Mai when they meet), because Hasegawa already has a history of putting his science before strictly moral considerations (e.g., working for the Syndicate).

Did Muro actually die?

Many players probably assume that Muro dies at the end of Oni, without really thinking about it. For one thing, Konoko experiences a Daodan surge upon his defeat. This issue is addressed as part of the next question below. But certainly there is no need to assume that, just because a person falls down and doesn't get up, he is dead.
Another point which we have to consider is which branch to follow in Oni 1's story. Even though the plot turns out the same regardless of whether Griffin is spared, it might make a difference for Muro. In the scenario where Konoko killed Griffin and had to fight Imago Muro alone, she didn't necessarily have any way to turn him into the authorities after beating him. If she didn't kill him, then he probably just woke up later and escaped. Whereas in the scenario where Griffin is spared, then shows up and helps out in the fight, it's much more reasonable to assume that Griffin would take charge of the situation afterwards, either taking him prisoner or ordering him killed.
But I don't think that Griffin would kill him in cold blood after Muro collapsed, when he had not even advanced to the Imago stage. If Griffin did take him into custody, then Muro would probably stay incarcerated forever, even in the midst of worldwide governmental turmoil, or disagreement over which political authority has jurisdiction over him. (We should give the TCTF at least a little credit and assume that they could find a way to keep an Imago caged up.)
Therefore, if we build on the Griffin-lives ending of Oni 1, we can assume that Muro is still alive. It's just a matter of figuring out whether Muro should play a major or minor role in Oni 2. He doesn't seem like a well-rounded character or one that could be elaborated upon. Certainly making him the major villain seems much less interesting than introducing a new villain (or another form of antagonist entirely...). Perhaps Mai can go visit him in prison at some point and they can have a little brother-sister chat, but I don't see Muro's philosophy being interesting enough to fuel the whole plot of Oni 2.
One possibility for a minor role is a sort of "side arc" where Muro breaks out of prison and goes on an Imago rampage, and Mai has to stop him. It doesn't require that we build a lot of story around him, and yet it gives him something to do in the sequel.

Did Barabas or Mukade die? Either could simply have been KOed.

One question that needs to be answered here is whether Konoko's major Daodan spikes only occur upon the death of an enemy Daodan host. We can immediately say that it is not necessary for the enemy to be a Daodan host because of the spike that occurs after defeating the room with the Fury and two Strikers in Chapter 7. It's harder to answer whether the spike requires an enemy to be killed, but if we're going to say that Muro lived (see above), then that means that a Daodan surge must not require the death of an opponent, merely victory over him. This answer also gives us the most flexibility in bringing back characters from Oni 1.
We could bring back Barabas, although he's frankly a boring character, so I don't see much use for him. It would also be weird if none of Konoko's major enemies die, considering that Konoko is a fairly violent femme in the first game, so if we are going to avoid straining credulity, we should bring back only the most interesting enemies from Oni 1. I would rank them in the following order of priority: Mukade, Muro, Barabas. I can see Mukade adding the most depth to Oni 2, so let's focus on what we can do with him (see Mukade questions below).

What exactly causes those Daodan super-surges? What do they tell us about Konoko?

Hardy LeBel, in a well-known OCF post, explained that Konoko and Mukade are like super-predators because of the Daodan Chrysalis inside them. His post merely explained why Mukade and Konoko were attuned to each other, not what was causing Konoko's Daodan surges. The superficial answer would be that a surge represents victory over an opponent, like a post-fight rush of ecstasy. That explanation falls flat, however, when you consider that Mukade's defeat did not trigger a surge in Konoko.
The deeper question here is whether the Daodan always makes someone into a violent superhuman. If it does, then it makes sense that violence should be rewarded with a rush of pleasure; alternately, the surge may represent a sort of "leveling up" after a successful kill. However, Kerr told Konoko that she would remain true to her nature, just that her final form would be a more resilient version of herself. Also, depending on the goal or "purpose" of the Daodan organism, violent behavior may not be a requisite development at all (see the Neo-Biology page). And since Oni 1 is clearly showing that Konoko is not a bad person (at least, if she spares Griffin), then that means that we shouldn't assume her Daodan surges come from a love for violence.
An alternate possibility is that the Daodan simply advances on its own in random surges. However, each of Konoko's surges occurs right after a fight, which is an unlikely coincidence.
Is it possible that the occurrence of a major spike has more to do with Konoko's motivations for fighting? It could be pointed out that all three of the "triggers" for the major spikes are the defeat of someone who has something to do with harming Shinatama. Barabas has just kidnapped her when Konoko defeats him; the room of baddies at the end of Chapter 7 are guarding Shinatama; and Muro was the one who tortured Shinatama personally. Shinatama was the only person Konoko had grown close to in her entire life. Konoko even disobeyed direct orders from her superior to go find her. So it's not so far-fetched to suggest that Konoko is thriving, not on shed blood, but on the removal of threats to her friend. This would be very much in keeping with animé tradition, where the character's motivation for fighting is sometimes the source of their power, and the hero's power is greatest when they are protecting others.
So, to sum up, either Konoko was being rewarded by the Daodan for her violence, or else her power only advanced when she was fighting to save a friend. This stark dilemma could make for interesting elaboration in Oni 2. Perhaps Konoko is not certain herself whether she is a good person, after the things she's done. If she hasn't reached her Imago form yet, this could be a source of great concern to her, as she wonders how she will turn out when she 'emerges from the pupa'. She may not realize that, deep down, she has real compassion. Especially after the events of Oni 1, where she mowed down countless enemies and everyone was out to get her, she might feel that she has no choice but to be a cold, untrusting person.

Who really was/is Mukade?

Certain parts of this wiki have speculated that the armored master ninja was Konoko's dad, or a clone thereof. Questions have also been raised about whether he was a subordinate of Muro's, or BGI's, or his own agent. Doubts have even been raised as to whether the other ninjas were on Mukade's side or not, and whether Mukade might have actually wanted to be caught by, or to fight, Konoko. After considering all the options, I've decided to take the simplest approach which follows the facts, not for lack of imagination, but for where it will lead the story.
What Mukade is not:
  • Konoko's father. The reason Konoko could sense him is that they are both Daodan symbiotes (Cf. Hardy). Also, Hasegawa would be too old to fight like that.
  • A clone of Konoko's father. There is no mention of the practice of cloning in Oni, and it seems a bit forced to try to explain his motivation for trying to keep the truth from her.
  • A robot. If robots could be built with such sophistication, there would be no need for SLDs. Plus, the Daodan thing.
  • An SLD. He has far too much self-awareness and personality for an artificial humanoid, and it deprives him of the ability to have an interesting background.
No, Mukade is simply a ninja who rose through the ranks and was selected by Muro to be a Daodan host, as Barabas rose through the Striker ranks to the same end. I can't argue with certainty that he couldn't possibly be an SLD based off Hasegawa's engrams and implanted with a Daodan, but it seems more interesting to make him a unique individual with his own back story and motivations that we can develop in Oni 2, rather than just a "Xerox copy" of an existing character.
The manual states that Mukade works for the Syndicate, which would mean Muro is his boss. However, I do want to tweak this particular aspect of the story. Since we know that BGI was originally supposed to play a role in Oni, I am going to make him a double agent; he reported to Muro, but his true allegiance was to BGI, and escaping with Konoko's data was part of BGI's agenda, not Muro's (to be elaborated on when I upload my BGI storyline).

If still alive, what is Mukade doing?

After being broken at Konoko's hands, Mukade's body was retrieved by BGI and he recuperated in a well-hidden safe house, even as the WCG stormed the facilities they knew about. Now free of his masters, Mukade doesn't even hold a grudge against Konoko. He has given himself a new mission -- experimenting with new agricultural methods in order to figure out how to control the Wilderness or live alongside it. He is likely to want to avoid violence, so it doesn't bring back his 'bad tendencies'.

What would Mai be doing as the Cataclysm happened?

She and Griffin are the only ones we know of with the knowledge to work with Chrysalises. Well, the Syndicate might have Muro's data. Anyway, if we assume her views remain the same from the ending of Oni, Mai would be helping people get them, but not in a Florence Nightingale way; she's no doting nurse. She'd be wherever there's a fight over collecting Daodans from the Wilderness or quelling international issues one hotspot at a time.
She might also have issues about her choices at the end of Oni.
She definitely won't go by the name "Konoko" anymore, I think everyone can agree on that.

Does Mai end up going Imago, at least by the time of Oni 2?

A. Option 1 is that for some reason she doesn't. If Oni 2 is not set immediately after Oni 1, it seems unlikely that she would be un-transformed unless:
1. She hasn't done any fighting (also unlikely) so that the Daodan hasn't seen a need to take her to the next level.
2. She won't transform unless she intentionally draws on the power and gives in to it.
3. She was "on ice" for the intervening time.
4. Muro was just that far ahead of her, in terms of being the first symbiote and in pushing himself to advance as quickly as possible.
B. Option 2 is that she does, but she can un-transform too, so normally she resembles the Mai we knew. This is definitely the option that is most in line with animé tradition.
We then need to figure out how long she can transform for. What prevents her from being super-powered all the time? This is a concern from a gameplay standpoint. If we can't figure out why she wouldn't be transformed yet, and why she would be able to un-transform, then we have no choice but to make her all Imago, all the time and simply raise the level of her enemies accordingly (see next question).
C. Option 3 is that she is permanently transformed. So how does this affect her? It depends on what she looks like, right?
I think any fan will reject the idea of Mai becoming hideous or scary, at least if it's her permanent form, so let's say that she's not that different-looking from before, and and can mask her transformation with sunglasses and a facial mask, like synthetic skin, that makes it look normal-colored.
This option, C2, sets us up for a traditional animé-style revelation. At first we're told that she never transformed, for some unknown reason. Then, somewhere (probably early) in the game, Mai meets an adversary who's too strong for her -- or so it seems. Maybe he smashes her in the face, hard, and she hits a wall, and slumps to the ground. Her sunglasses fall off, and clatter on the ground. Meanwhile, your health is getting critical. Then she slowly stands up, face lowered, and says, "That hurt." She reaches up to her face, which seems to have torn skin hanging from it, and pulls it all off, then looks up, and we see her true, transformed face, with its real skin and her altered eyes. Suddenly she starts to glow with a Daodan overpower aura, and her health is fully restored, and now the bad guy is no match for her. She then can use this form (perhaps sparingly) throughout the rest of the game, now that it's revealed that she transformed a while ago and normally holds back in a fight, to keep her secret.

Even if not Imago yet, shouldn't Mai be rapidly recuperating from injuries?

This console states that Mai (presumably she is the one they are operating on, who else would it be?) can "[repair] skin and organ damage almost as it happens" when they attempt exploratory surgery. So why can't you just stand around in the game and regenerate health? And if Mai's Chrysalis has advanced even more in Oni 2, then it's even harder to see why the sequel wouldn't work this way. Some games these days do provide the player with regenerating health, with even less of a justification for it than Oni 2 would have. Unfortunately, this isn't the direction we want to go with Oni 2 because it encourages interrupting the flow of the game to hide from the enemy or stand in one spot.
This brings to mind an interesting suggestion made on OCF (see third post down), which is that hypos sedate the conscious mind somewhat as part of the healing process, which allows the Daodan Chrysalis to exert more control over the host. This was intended to explain the Daodan overpower mode that kicks in when you pass 100% health, but it could also explain why Mai can regenerate like a regular Wolverine when under the knife, even though she doesn't in-game -- she was almost certainly sedated at the time of the surgery! A suggestion made by guido in the Oni 2 Storyline thread was that the Daodan and the host have a sort of psychic war going on, a fight for control. If the human part of Mai is holding back the Daodan from taking over mentally (more on this later), then it could also be responsible for limiting the powers of the Daodan over her body.

If/when she does go Imago, isn't Mai going to be too powerful to make the game challenging?

A. Play ZOE 2 before you ask that question. You're massively more powerful at the end than you were at the start of ZOE, wasting dozens of enemies with each attack. But the game's still challenging. The key is just having tons of enemies or one very strong enemy.
B. She might not always be transformed or able to transform.
C. There's the amnesia option proposed elsewhere, but amnesia wouldn't remove her strength, only her skill. Still, having to re-learn fighting would make the game more challenging. But I am not a fan of a contrived "restart" that wants to drag a character back to where they were.

Is "Imago" really Imago?

The word "Imago" occurs only once in Oni, in the final mission objective: "Muro has achieved the next level of Daodan evolution: the Imago stage." "Imago" means the final, adult stage of an insect. Two interesting questions arise here: how does anyone, even Hasegawa, know what the final stage is (has anyone reached Imago stage yet? aren't Mai and Muro the "prime symbiotes"?), and is it significant that Bungie wrote "the next stage" instead of "the final stage"?
Could it be that the so-called Imago stage is actually not the final stage at all? For what it's worth, a stage of life in an insect is called an "instar" -- and the emperor moth has at least five instars. Is it possible that Muro ends up in a form that is not even intended for the Daodan host (assuming the Daodan was designed)? Even if it was intended, could it be the equivalent of the teenage stage of human life, gangly, awkward and temporary?
To complicate things, the game goes on to state that "Muro's Daodan powers make him invulnerable, but having only just evolved he has limited energy reserves." This is one of those objective texts that seems to break the fourth wall; who is telling us that? How do they know? If it's coming directly from Bungie's mouth, then does that mean we can't contradict it? Even if they didn't say it was the "final" stage, they still claim that Muro is going to become "invulnerable". From a gameplay standpoint, becoming permanently invincible is pretty "final"! This would seem to indicate that Konoko cannot be allowed to reach Imago in a sequel, which is rather unpleasant to contemplate for both gameplay and logical reasons.
However, we can look at that text another way. Note that the final mission objective refers to Muro having "limited energy reserves" because he has "just evolved". Perhaps a Daodan host can store some energy, but since one cannot store infinite energy, obviously the host needs to keep taking in energy faster than they expend it; this is a basic rule of life. So perhaps what Bungie's really saying is, "Muro is not yet drawing in energy as fast as he can expend it". Here "reserve" is defined as "throughput from the source", or "energy bandwidth" -- how big a reservoir of energy Muro can access from minute-to-minute, if you will. Think about Konoko: she never stops being Daodan-boosted (in terms of basic physical enhancements, not the Daodan overpower mode); one way to explain this is that Konoko's energy reserves never run out either, for her level of energy expenditure.
From that standpoint, we could then go on to say that Muro can only become "invulnerable" in relative terms; that is, there is nothing Konoko can do at the moment that can hurt him when his shield is up. But Muro is not going to become absolutely invincible -- the idea is silly if one considers it in those terms -- he has simply stepped up his energy usage to a new plateau that his intake cannot yet match. This interpretation allows us to say that there is still room for further development; that Muro has not reached the final stage yet. This ties back to Bungie calling it the "next" stage in the objective text, not the "final" one. Perhaps "Imago" was a misnomer after all (we'll just ignore that Bungie themselves call it that and hand-wave it as "Hasegawa thought this was the Imago stage, but he was wrong")!

Wouldn't the Daodan make the host immortal?

"Immortal" here being defined as "not experiencing natural death" rather than "totally unkillable", the question really is, Won't the amazing healing abilities of the Daodan keep a host perpetually young? To my mind, all of the following are possible:
A. The Daodan is not perfect, so it cannot make the host perfect (i.e., remove a basic flaw in the cellular processes).
B. The Daodan was designed to improve an organism but not to grant it immortality. The designers may have a philosophical or cultural reason for Daodan hosts or the general populace not living forever.
C. The Daodan has no effect on aging because it doesn't affect the shortening of telomeres. It can only heal the body as long as it can create new cells, but since telomere-shortening is part of the program in human DNA, the Daodan will eventually run out of the physical means to keep the body going, regardless of how much energy the Daodan can access.
D. The Daodan actually shortens the host lifespan because it forces rapid cell doubling. More frequent cell division accelerates the aging process.
The fact is, the "aging problem" seems to be really complex; scientists can't agree on whether we die because our cells are programmed that way or because of accumulated environmental damage. Certainly the whole telomere-shortening issue is not considered to be a fundamental law of life. There are life forms that don't even use telomeres (simple ones), and some of the ones that do seem to be able to keep their telomeres from shrinking. One species of bird may even lengthen its telomeres over time.
Then you have the infamous HeLa cell line, taken from the cancerous tissue of a woman who died 60 years ago. HeLa cells are immortal (and frighteningly adaptable). Just to drive the point home, these are human cells, dividing without end, because they fully restore their telomeres with every division. However, this is because they are a cancer, not a viable life form. It could be that complex life forms just aren't able to live forever because of some trade-offs we're not familiar with. But scientists generally agree that there is no known reason why our bodies cannot keep going indefinitely, on a mechanical level.
Perhaps more importantly, aging may be a much more holistic problem than a simple matter of stopping telomeres from getting shorter. Scientists have not even demonstrated that aging is caused by shortening of telomeres. It's also hard to tell whether longer telomeres lead to less incidences of cancer, or more incidences! However, for our purposes, we can simply say that the Daodan is like cancer that only keeps on improving you. It's just magic that way, or sufficiently advanced technology, anyway. The open question is still whether the Daodan can, or was designed to, stop aging.
Finally, an intriguing counterpoint is that of neurons. Our brain cells are actually immortal, and not in the sense of HeLa being immortal because it never stops dividing. Neurons don't divide at all. You still have the same cells in your brain that you did when you were young. To be exact, neurons stop being produced in adulthood, so after that point, what you got is what you got. Except there's an exception there too -- the hippocampus and olfactory bulbs continue to generate new neurons. So, even though our bodies tend to give out after 80 or so years, our brains might in fact be immortal. Can the Daodan extend this special property of the brain to our entire bodies? I suppose the answer is whatever we think leads to the most interesting story.

What would Oni 2 be about?

Various notions that could be combined to form a plot.
  • Mai is trying to find her father. It should be for more than sentimental reasons, because those would seem trivial when the world is on fire, but certainly she wants some kind of answers or closure, similar to an adopted child seeking out his real parents. But likely Hasegawa will have data on the Daodan that could be instrumental to whatever is going on. When she finds him, we get to learn what he's been up to all this time. Maybe finding him is just the start of Act Two, as his information sets a new plot in motion.
  • It could also be about a new development in the Wilderness... at first, it was just Daodan-enhanced plant life, polluting our air with the byproducts of its respiration, but now more advanced life is appearing, on higher trophic levels. The world, viewed as a "trophic map", shows the large masses of Wilderness plants around the world as one color, then a darker color within that mass, spreading out in all directions, representing level 2, then level 3 heterotrophs -- either coming through the veil, or else our animal life is now successfully being modified by the Daodan as well, or can now successfully live off the foreign flora. Earth as we know it will be swallowed up unless we can stop it -- or failing that, implant all humans with Chrysalises so they can survive the final cataclysm.
  • Perhaps Man is trying to burn away the mutated Wilderness to re-establish a normal ecosphere and Mai feels this is not the right path. Or, alternately, Mai is simply traveling the world to see how the Wilderness is being coped with in different areas. Perhaps there's even a Utopian city that is successful keeping out the Daodan, but at some kind of horrible cost (human sacrifices?).
  • The Neo-Syndicate is selling Chrysalises, and Mai and company are trying to prevent it.
  • Someone has released a virus that can kill the Chrysalis. Particularly if the Chrysalises being sold are based on one set of genes to speed up production, this puts the entire implanted population at risk of death, or at least the removal of their protection from the Bio-Crisis.
  • Or maybe, instead of killing the Chrysalis, it makes those implantees change somehow.
  • Or perhaps the remaining Flatline zombies out there are still controllable by the Syndicate, even after Daodan implantation....