Just going to jump right in. Here is a selection of collected thoughts before Kuro II.
MTSC & Zolga
I’ll start with Marduk, whom I believe to ultimately be behind the events of the Grendel-Zolga phenomenon. MTSC are apparently one of the leading developers of orbal technology at the moment and have been suspicious from day one when they hacked into the Celestial Globe for Gramheart. They are almost so suspicious that it’s a red herring but here a few of my observations:
- MTSC has progressed to becoming a major developer on the continent in a short space of time, practically unheard of before. They have the latest military hardware from Kasim’s buster lance, to prosthetic limbs, virtual environment simulators which read the mind, stealth drones, and advanced hollow cores such as Mare. Marchen-Garten seems to take the simulator technology even further, creating something which could rival perhaps even the Infinity Corridor.
• Joerg Rosenberg is now working with them in an unknown capacity. His specialty is doll manufacturing.
I believe MTSC have or at least had the last remaining Oct-Genesis, the red one we see in the promotional material, and have been using it to drive their development of orbal technology. Grendel-Zolga is not a new demon lord and simply a reproduction of Mare and Grendel from their research.
- The man in possession of the last genesis looks very similar to the man having tea in the background of Risette’s artwork in the Kuro ending. The hat is literally identical. The scarf isn’t there but they generally share the same profile. This image in particular seems laden with Easter eggs such as Joerg, Olivert & Sherid meeting, and of course another early cameo, Mirabel Aalton. I don’t care if there is a nearly identical NPC in Kuro since Aleister sets a precedent for NPCs being relevant.
• MTSC provided Van with his core and weaponry in the first place, and its directly shown that Marduk (through Risette at the very least) have been monitoring him. All the data regarding Grendel would naturally be available to them, making the creation of a copy feasible under the right conditions. They’ve had stealth drones observe Van as well.
• During the Pandemonium Shift in Edith, only characters Van is familiar with are able to move, yet, somehow an entire unit of MTSC no-namers are active. An argument can be made that Van knows each of them personally from his training with the company, but ask yourself how likely that is. Gilliam also was extremely calm and prepared for the turn of events, almost as if he was expecting everything.
There’s not as strong evidence here, but the diamond in the Marduk logo likely originates from somewhere. The last Genesis has a diamond shape as its icon, perhaps serving as the inspiration for their iconography. It’s a common shape however.
When the Oct-Genesis are discussed in Basel, it is stated they cannot create miracles and new technology from nothing. There must be a basis for anything created. I believe the Genesis are ultimately devices that observe and record the phenomena around them and manifest the potential of that technology. I do not know how they do this, but it is pattern that seems to largely hold true. The OST associated with the genesis is titled “a vessel for observing the world.”
- The first Genesis reacted to whatever Mare is and enabled Van to gain the incredibly powerful Shard armor, Grendel. Grendel seems to be Mare’s power as her shard control is stated to be unusually potent (see events with Yume in Longlai). There is also definitely a connection between Van’s demonic self and whatever Mare is but it remains a mystery for now. More on this in later part…
- The second genesis was stated to be developed to study life force for the use of healing arts. Resurrecting the life force of Aida based upon its observations of her while in Creil seems like a logical progression of that potential.
- The third Genesis was in the possession of Taikun. It most likely observed the events 40 years ago and manifested them as Aaron’s true potential in the present.
- The fourth is still a mystery as it is hinted Naje became Verethragnar for a specific reason. We know Gerard had the mask to be able to replicate its influence in the Foxy Parade.
- The fifth genesis is easy to match, it helped facilitate Callaghan’s potential into an AI to calculate the Reactor weapon–almost.
- The sixth was directly used for observation in the Carnival to manage Gerard’s Death game.
- The seventh manifested Genesis Tower, which largely calculated and created the Pandemonium effect. It’s full title is: The Seventh Foundational Device’s Observations Made Manifest. I’m not sure exactly what it observed to ‘manifest’ pandemonium but it’s clear it fits the pattern on this alone.
Continuing on, if MTSC had the means to observe Van and Grendel–plus a Genesis in their possession–creating an artificial version should be within the remit of its abilities. Altera gets unnerved in Mare’s presence which might be due to the inferiority complex when meeting the original.
I’m not sure what MSTC’s ultimate motive is, but I’m suspecting Grendel-Zolga is not any one person and that anyone who has the last genesis can manifest the ability to become Zolga. Altera states ‘Boot the Grendel’ suggesting even more it is some kind of program developed. The first man might simply be fodder and someone else will take the mantle. Garden-master (cough Ace) seems to have control over it at one point. We could see a situation where Kasim himself becomes the Zolga. His body armor doesn’t look too dissimilar to Grendel and Gerard’s Demon Form.
Unanswered questions include why MSTC are developing all this technology, why Zolga has a scar on his chest and what exactly their role is in hunting down Van as seems to be the case. What does Kasim find so unforgivable?
Ouroboros and Grendel/Mare
For the second part, I’m going off the rails slightly to delve into territory I’m not 100% confidant about. The ideas here pertain to the mysteries of the series as a whole. I’m mainly posting these to organize my thoughts and hope that someone cleverer than I am can find the missing pieces and use them as a springboard for the real answer.
MTSC was definitely active behind the scenes in Hajimari. Novartis storms into the Celestial Globe to proclaim that whatever he was doing was interrupted. It is clear from the fact he mentions Elroy, who is acting in the vicinity of Marduk, the headquarters in Ored, and his reaction to the symbol in Gramheart’s hack that MTSC are the culprits. However, the more interesting thing is that he asks McBurn if he knows anything about the attack. This initial assumption seems random at first and McBurn himself seems to think so too, stating, “Why should I know?” but then he has a realization and realizes there might be a genuine connection, “but that means…”
So what does McBurn have to do with anything? Well we know he is a being of the Beyond/Outside and has undisclosed business with Campanella. There are also a lot of connections between McBurn and Van’s Diabolic Core, and what Gerard was able to do with it such as:
- Aesthetic similarities are the most obvious, with McBurn’s true form resembling the Grendel and Demon Gerard in size, glowing ribbon tendrils of energy, the eyes, voice shift, armor like body and colorful accents. The demonic connection is even there with McBurn’s concept art. There are also the tattoos present on McBurn, Melchior and Gerard (and Campanella’s eye maybe?)
- Gerard calls out McBurn specifically when shifting to his final form. It is obvious Falcom wants us to draw the parallel here.
There is some connection between Grendel, the 77 devils and the Outside/Beyond. I’m not smart enough to say whether it’s because McBurn is himself one of the five Demon lords (fire to Vagrantz’ time) or whether he is shackled and has a form even further beyond his ‘half memory’ form. It was also noted he and the Grandmaster were uniquely capable of breaching Pandemonium–make of that what you will.
So if Van’s Grendel has Mare, and Zolga has Altera. Does McBurn have someone fulfilling a similar role? Campanella perhaps? I’ve written a theory on here before about Campy being the equivalent of a fairy in Kiseki, so comparing him with Mare is an easy step. As a recap from that previous theory, fairies are traditionally seen as outside the human world and laws. Let’s add in the fact Campy can command the 77 devils and the possible gender confusion onboard the Pantagruel. Mare took over the hollow core of Van’s, and later did the same to Yumé- Did the same happen to Campanella? A ‘female’ form stuck in a male body? I’m not the first to speculate on that so I’ll leave it there. Interesting to think about whether Yume would have aged, but she definitely gets the supernatural shard control abilities without an orbment!
Oh and the kanji for Mare’s name (メア) are the same as the kanji in McBurn’s true name, (メア＝ク＝バルウド＝ルアウング) to the extent that “Mare Cu Baldugh Ruang” is a feasible translation. These small things are not worth much individually but put together and they just form the pieces to an elaborate jigsaw puzzle.
To tie these two theories together, I think one possible motivation MTSC has for developing Grendel-Zolga is to help them research the Beyond so that they can breach the Barrier around the world. I’ve been theorizing since before even Kuro that Gramheart would be aiming to break the barrier upwards and go into space. MTSC is helping him do this.