In 1975, The Archer Foundation located Helix and raided his secret island base and recovered pure samples of the Telepath and Mentalist Psion Serums. The Foundation established the Advanced Research Commission to research the serums and distribute samples to the other factions of the Conspiracy. One of the earliest results of that research was a drug derived from the Telepath Serum that allowed the subject to project elements of their subconscious to others around them. Further development led to a drug that could induce lucid dreams, and even shared dreams among subjects that were given simultaneous doses. This drug was dubbed “Somnacin”. In the early 80s, The Company began their own testing regime for the drug, with an eye towards using it as an aid for training and interrogations. The drug’s usefulness in training turned out to be limited, at best as exercises conducted in dreams didn’t build reflexes or muscle memory, and learning to control the dreams took valuable time away from basic training. However, it proved to be extremely effective when used for interrogations. Through shared dreams, it was often possible to extract detailed and accurate information from a target in a very short time and without them ever realizing it. Over time the practice spread to the other factions of the Conspiracy. As techniques improved, most factions began giving their sensitive personnel training in detecting and resisting these dream extractions.
The use of Somnacin was hardly affected at all by the departure of ARC to form their own faction. By that time, the major users of the drug had built up their own production facilities and everyone else was able to maintain their reserves of the drug through their allies rather than relying on ARC as they had been. Today, Somnacin is simply one of many tools available to the members of the Conspiracy. The Company makes liberal use of it, as does Morpheus and ARC. The Gemeinschaft Consortium also uses Somnacin to a lesser extent. The other factions use dream extractions sparingly, or not at all.
Somnacin itself is a pale yellow liquid that must be delivered intravenously. Considerable effort has been devoted to adapt the drug to other delivery methods such as pills or inhalers, but the compounds are not absorbed correctly except when introduced directly into the blood stream. It has a slightly oily feel, a bitter taste, and is odorless. On its own, Somnacin induces a psychically active REM sleep state within seconds of being administered. However, this state only lasts as long as a normal REM cycle, which varies depending on when the subject last slept, but is usually only a few minutes. While in this state, the subject can be woken normally by external stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, pain, or sudden motion. For these reasons, Somnacin is usually mixed with a mild sedative to enable dream sessions that can last up to a few hours. If a dream session is anticipated to need to be longer than that, general anesthetics must be used to induce a chemical coma; this is dangerous both medically, and because it leaves an agent unable to respond to changing conditions in the field for many hours at a time. On its own, Somnacin is not dangerous, but prolonged use can lead to sleep disorders and insomnia, which can cause a variety of physical and mental problems.