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From Introduction:

Viscaria is a new petal that has been introduced by Xia Mandava, a young petal designer associated with Carnival of the Goat. The idea was to create a group petal, helping people to bond together and explore their subconscious memories. By petal standards it is almost retro: fake amnesia, a bit of psychodrama hallucinations, a networked trance, a gradual awakening/ascension. Xia’s mentor Jack “Brassinosteroid” Chory felt that it was good enough to release, but suggested that next petal could be a bit wilder.

However, Viscaria had a major bug nobody noticed. It accidentally produces distributed minds. Users who trip on the petal will envision other people, imbuing them with motivations and abilities that fit their memories and expectations. In group mode several minds will work together to create even better visions. So well, in fact, that these fictional persons become far more coherent and smart than mere dream characters. They are running on the substrate of the petallinked minds, can use the intelligence, knowledge and skills of the users and even develop their own volition. The main reason this works is that the petal simply taps into the routines used normally during dreaming, amplifying them using some off-the shelf subconsciousness manipulation software and the networking capabilities of the petal.

It does not scale terribly well – the petal cannot handle too many people, and the joint subconscious dissolves at the end. However, the fictional people created do not fade quite as easily. They become reinforced within each user’s mind, and next time they will pop out again. This time they will be even more aware and able, likely conscious of their own situation and able to exploit it.

Most fictional people created this way are harmless: projections of close friends, relatives, perhaps a celebrity. They are their quirks, little more than caricatures that go about their business. But some become ambitious. Maybe they are more of projections of shared fears, uncertainties and drives (such as staying alive). They can use their status to implant ideas and spread from mind to mind. They know they are not real people and that they only exist when people are tripping. So they make plans to get people to trip more on Viscaria, get people with the right skillsets to trip, and slowly build their plans for taking over.

In particular, one fictional, “Dark Ron”, has managed to take over at least one host and is now on his way to wreak vengeance against his creator. Tortured bodies are started to pile up: the subconscious is mad as hell, and it is not going to take it anymore.

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