C3 (C3-fullero-tris-methanodicarboxylic acid) is a synthetic neurological booster that allows users to compartmentalize memories and skills so that they do not interfere in situations where they are not useful. The drug is classified as a potent psychotropic and is highly regulated by the empires. It is Class B Monitored Substance under CONCORD treaty, heavily restricting its use and possession, as the side-effects of use are potentially fatal. It is commonly used as a performance enhancer by capsuleers, Mind Clash players, and others in intellectually and emotionally challenging fields. The drug was once extremely expensive, but excursions into wormholes have discovered vast quantities of the chemicals used to produce it, lowering costs immensely.
C3 was first synthesized in YC102 by scientists working for Zainou Biotech. The group was searching for a chemical compound that could be used to treat frontotemporal dementia by forcing the brain to remap the functions of the frontal lobe onto other parts of the brain. Initial tests of C3 appeared promising, but it was quickly discovered that the drug did not actually transfer the skills of the frontal lobe, instead merely allowing patients to more clearly focus on tested skills to the detriment of others.
Zainou realized a promising drug when it saw one, however, and repurposed the drug for other uses. Trials proved that the drug was remarkable in its ability to improve short-term cognitive functions and concentration. Test subjects reported that they entered into something described as a "trance" where they thought only about whatever specific task was at hand, without any distracting thoughts or disturbances being noticed.
However, several test subjects also experienced extreme reactions to repeated use of the drug. Rather than it wearing off after a few hours, the users would become "locked in". Skills and memories related to the specific task they were engaging in were seemingly lost entirely, with the user's only desire to perform the task over and over until exhaustion. In one notable trial, a former doctor became obsessed with the construction of shoes by hand, blocking out entirely the memories of his family and friends and becoming measurably distressed when his cobbling tools were taken away from him.
Because of these results, Zainou halted human testing of the drug until a method of counteracting the side effects was discovered. As yet, no such refinement has been made, though at some point the method of manufacturing the drug slipped into outside hands. From there, the recipe spread into the hands of the various criminal cartels of New Eden, who began manufacturing the drug for wealthy clientele.
For the first decade of its existence, C3 was a very expensive drug, traded only in very small quantities among the upper echelons of the criminal underworld. Buyers often dealt directly with drug lords themselves to purchase the drug. However, following the opening of numerous wormholes across the cluster in YC111, manufacturers discovered massive quantities of the gas clouds utilized in C3's creation in wormhole space. This caused the price of C3 to plummet.
C3 is a powerful psychoactive drug, working directly on the user's brain. Unlike many other psychotropics, C3 does not cause hallucinations, but rather causes neurons that are not actively firing at the time of its application to remain off. This has the effect of compartmentalizing memory and skill, enabling the user to block out any skills, thoughts, or memories that do not facilitate the task at hand. Users have likened the effects of use to being in a trance, or having extreme focus. They are unable to think of anything not related to their current task, regardless of it importance or danger.
The drug is typically taken right as a person begins a specific task when their mind is most focused on it. This allows the skills and experiences required to best complete the task to be fresh and engaged, reducing the chances that the drug either blocks out something necessary or allows something unwanted to remain. More experienced users can call up a specific list of skills and memories, but this takes much practice and is not infallible.
The onset time is fast, on the order of a few minutes, as the chemicals act on the brain pathways. Once it has fully taken hold, users act frenetically to accomplish their current tasks. They are unable to focus on anything else for more than a few seconds, making things such as conversations impossible. Instead, they continue at the task until the drug wears off.
Different dosage sizes change the amount of time the compartmentalized state lasts. Under ideal circumstances, the dose is sized so that it will wear off shortly after the task is completed. Users who complete their task but still are under the effects of the drug can become distressed and violent should they be unable to continue it.
Use of C3 carries several dangers. The most publicized is the "locked in" condition, where the neurons of the brain blocked by the drug become permanently turned off. People in this condition continue to act as if they are under the drug's effects, even when it wears off, losing the ability to perform any tasks that are unrelated to what they were doing beforehand. The condition is reversible, though it typically takes several years of extensive psychotherapy to cure. The locked in condition is rare, however, and it appears to either affect a user the first time the drug is used or never.
The more common risk of C3 is that users block out all stimuli not related to their task when under its effects. This can have disastrous consequences, such as a user refusing to flee from a burning building while still in the middle of their work. Numerous cases of users being injured due to their being unable to comprehend situations unrelated to their tasks have been reported, from the aforementioned fire, to users walking out into traffic, to forgetting to eat or drink, among others.
Finally, a user who completes their task, but is still under the effects of the drug can become highly distressed unless they are given a similar task to complete. Should their ability to continue work be taken from them, their reactions are unpredictable. Many may become violent, others suicidal, while some may simply become catatonic until the drug wears off.
With the drug becoming cheaper and more readily available, the number of users has increased dramatically. Previously, only very rich individuals could afford the drug, limiting its scope. Now, however, many different echelons of society are able to partake.
Capsuleers are one of the more common users. As many capsuleers pick up skills they are unable to use constantly, C3 enables them to focus on a specific area and excel at it for a short period of time. For example, a capsuleer who has trained to mine likely does not need those skills while flying an Amarr battleship and can take C3 and block out anything related to mining.
The drug has grown popular among laborers, factory workers, and others whose jobs are repetitive and require only a small skillset. By taking a sufficiently large dose prior to work, the user can be more efficient. Such users also commonly report increased happiness with work, as while under the effects of C3, they are unable to contemplate other things that would normally cause dissatisfaction.
Students have also found C3 to be beneficial, particularly when it comes to test-taking. By blocking out all information unrelated to the subject at hand, the students can more easily recall pertinent facts and material.
Mind Clash players often utilize the drug as a form of psychic shielding. The drug can help them block out the attacks of their opponents, leaving them fortified against some of the more insidious attacks. Of course, the governing bodies drug test prior to all matches, preventing the use of C3 in most high-level competitions. However, this has not stopped some from attempting to mask their use, in order to gain an advantage. Similarly, competitors in other sports have found C3 of some use, allowing them to focus more readily on their performance.
There has been some thought that the drug could be used by soldiers, both to make them more efficient at their jobs and to help them cope with post traumatic stress disorder. The theory is that by using the drug while in combat, soldiers will block out things such as moral qualms, preventing the conflict from ever arising. Once the drug wears off, the psychological trauma will have passed, thus ensuring that no permanent connection is formed in the user's mind. This theory has yet to be tested in the field, however.
An additional potential use takes advantage of the extreme risks of the drug for those with at least two clones. The basic premise is that a person would transfer their consciousness to a new clone, then purposefully overdose on C3. This clone's brain would then be locked in to its concentrated state, making it ready to access at a moment's notice. The user would then jump clone back into their "base state" body, free of the chemical effects of C3. This would, in essence, split an individual's personality into two bodies; one a "combat consciousness" and one a "baseline consciousness".
Trials have been positive in this regard and because it acts only on a clone body, the risks of permanent damage are negated. However, it is considered a borderline breach of CONCORD's regulations against having two active clones at one time. Supporters claim that only one clone is actually active, with the other unconscious, but opponents say by splitting the personality into two bodies, both clones are technically active even if one is "asleep". The legality of its usage in this regard is still under review.