The condroni (/kənˈdrəʊni/) is a blue and black stranger covered in hundreds of eye markings. Its head and tail are bulky and heavy, while its arms and legs are thin and weak. The condroni's soft, smooth skin causes a faint buzzing sensation when touched, much like touching the screen of a CRT television set. Its flesh is black and oily, and its body cavity is filled entirely with a substance identical to human brain tissue in form and appearance, although lacking in structure or symmetry.
Despite its large size, the condroni is slow-moving and physically vulnerable. Its flesh can be cut with ease, and blunt impacts cause its eye markings to bruise and become bloodshot. When injured, it regenerates slowly (taking several days to heal from a cut two inches deep), but without scarring or other lasting effects.
It emits no odors, leaves behind no residue on its surroundings, and does not speak or make noise in any way.
SUPERLATIVE v. IMPERIAL: in 98.6% of infestations, condroni will appear with eye markings on the black stripes. In the remaining 1.4% of infestations, these markings appear on the blue stripes. The former category of condroni are known as the superlative type, while the latter are known as imperial type. Imperial-typed infestations tend to occur only in smaller cities.
The condroni appears on the tops of skyscrapers and other tall buildings of above fifty feet in height. Within an infested city, it can always be found atop the tallest 0.5% of buildings, as well as 36% of the tallest 5% of buildings, as well. This strain also appears on any radio or broadcasting towers able to support its weight, coiling tightly around the lattices and cables to keep from falling down from these great heights.
The condroni tends to appear in groups. The size of these groups vary depending on the height at which they appear, as well as the number of antennae or satellite dishes nearby, with the largest groups numbering up to thirty individuals. When it first manifests, its form appears flickering and holographic, and fades in after several minutes or hours to take on a solid shape.
The condroni and the ladroni are the only two strangers which appear in 100% of infestations. Thus, when there are no valid structures of suitable height, stranger infestations cannot occur.
The condroni's disposition is intelligent and omnipotent. It remains motionless most of the time, keeping its tail curled up tightly around its body or around nearby objects, while its head stands upright, its hundreds of false eye markings observing the world around it. It adjusts its position randomly and infrequently, and very rarely, uses its thin claws to scratch small, map-like lines into nearby surfaces.
Groups of condroni lay either in curling piles, or (far less frequently) in complex but ordered formations, such as rows or circles. Individuals occasionally engage with others of their strain across long distances using hand gestures similar to manual alphabet signing, but otherwise, interactions between individuals tends to be either minimal or unobservable.
The condroni's presence disrupts and distorts waves on the electromagnetic spectrum between 10Hz and 750THz, a range which includes television, AM and FM radio, visible and ultraviolet light, mobile phone, wireless data, infrared, remote control, radar, and sound waves. With undivided attention, the condroni monitors and memorizes these thousands of individual phone calls, televised films, and internet signals that pass through its brain.
The condroni uses its abilities to absorb, mutate, degrade, and retransmit waves which pass through it. These altered signals, when received by an object such as a television or radio, manifest with anomalies. Television images, for example, appear to freeze or move backwards, while words on the radio repeat themselves over and over (even as the background instrumentals continue), and telephones pick up unrelated sounds or signals. Most of these anomalies are brief and small enough to either go by unnoticed, or be dismissed as a trick pulled by an over-tired brain. Thus, the condroni's censorship of humanity remains minute and insidious, and persists as just another fact of life.
Each individual condroni disrupts a certain range of frequencies, with the range of frequencies affected and area of effect increasing with the age of the individual. A condroni that has reached the halfway point in its lifespan affects a range of between 167-700 feet, while the oldest individuals influence an area several miles in diameter.
Animals wearing radio collars or embedded microchips are susceptible to the strain's influence. These affected animals may show aberrant changes in behaviour, such as growling at inanimate objects, running in circles, or refusing to leave a specific corner of the yard or room of the house. This effect fades once collars or microchips are removed from the animal.
Despite the condroni's physically vulnerable form and lack of defenses, this strain is difficult to assault due to its effect on the human brain at close proximity. Although exact effects vary considerably, the condroni appears to be able to display great proficiency at rapidly exacerbating mental illnesses and thoughts disorders in individuals, and at close range, causes severe audiovisual hallucinations.
For many sensitives, encounters with condroni are quite calming and cathartic, and even sensitives with the most murderous of intentions finds themselves placated by the condroni's presence.
But as the sweat rolled down my arms, and as the pipe grew heavy in my grip, it came across my mind that I no longer had any intention to swing it. And I stared at the creature's eyes, and something from them oozed into me from just behind my own gaze, and it made my eyes feel cold as a starless sky. There was no hate within the creature's eyes; but they carried something so far from love that it made my breath snag up for just a second, and I knew that someday the sky above really would be well and truly black, and even the sun and moon would go out, and it would just be me and the beast, and after that, though I might still stand with beating in my heart, it would only be the beast."
For a small minority of sensitives, however, the condroni's presence causes panic and terror, culminating in complete mental breakdown. These individuals have been known to throw themselves off of buildings, engage in extreme self-injury, or cower like frightened children in front of the unmoving condroni. Even those who, in a frenzied, blind rage, manage to attack and kill the condroni cannot truly be called "victors", as they uniformly continue to display extremely distorted behaviours. Some affected survivors have been known to build elaborate architectural or mechanical structures, while others record hundreds of hours of film or audio focused on a single subject (for example, a particular wall, traffic signal, or section of a building), and still others fill hundreds (if not thousands) of journals with page after page of indecipherable codes and diagrams. Long-term planning appears disrupted, as does the ability to determine cause and effect for many individuals. The end result appears to be the complete dissolution of any ordered higher functioning, and the loss of socially integrated behaviours.
EMPEROR CONDRONI: as they age, 0.001% of condroni become emperor condroni. The presence of emperor condroni eats holes in the brain tissue of sensitives within the stranger's area of influence. These holes are usually microscopically small, and thus, it often takes years for sensitives to exhibit side-effects. The locations of these holes are random, and as such, symptoms vary on a case-by-case basis. Side effects of prolonged emperor condroni presence include behavioural changes (including sudden onset mental illness), early onset alzheimer's, and increased rates of brain cancer, among others. The severity of this effect increases at close range, however, and a sensitive who approaches an emperor condroni rarely survives long enough to reach its body1.
The condroni is ambivalent towards most human corpses, but will always turns to face a sensitive's corpse, using its hands to sign continuously until the body is either removed, or until the corpse's brain undergoes advanced decay.
The condroni's brain tissue grows continuously over the course of its life, until it becomes so dense that tumors and other physical abnormalities develop. This tissue disfunction, in turn, leads to aneurysms and seizures in the condroni. A seizing condroni broadcasts signals powerful enough to short out electronic equipment at close range, and it dies with a final outburst, the last pulses of its brain causing a blackout within a 0.8-1.7 mile radius that may last several hours. Following this event, the condroni's sides split, and its brain matter spills outwards. Rarely, the condroni remains alive following this massive injury, and makes weak attempts to hold itself together, even as its motions grow slow and jerky. Its death is expedited by neighboring condroni, who grab handfuls of brain matter and smear them upon the ground in a halo-like formation around the fallen companion's head.
The dead condroni's body decomposes at a brisk rate, flesh turning grey and shriveling up, eye markings fading away. Within 6-13 hours, only the skin remains, which loses color and congeals into a grey sludge, which other condroni press their hands against, then raise to the sky in a final sign-off to their fallen co-conspirator.