strangers: mosaics
creator
Nuve NuVonde
class
valetudinary
disposition
choleric
height
6 ft, 4 in
length
35 ft, 8 in
weight
2,702 lbs
size variance
7%
I.Q.
1,003
core temp.
411+°F
stability
90%
prevalence
(see entry)
constancy
85%
longevity
9-18 years
no. appearing
1-2 (2%) / 3-9 (98%)
vision type
near
language family
inhibited
physical appearance

The helmindroni (hɛlmɪn'drəʊni) is a large, dark stranger, completely black in color except for its saturated blue lips. Its skin is over an inch thick, extremely dense, and has a composition similar to tire rubber. Its porous flesh is an artificial cyan, and when pressed excludes a thin, clear oil that cannot be washed from clothing. Its central cavity is filled with a near-boiling fluid slightly less dense than mercury, at a scalding temperature that tends to be higher in less stable individuals. Its odor is markedly industrial, but cannot be likened to any single specific chemical, and is most evident around weeping wounds.

The helmindroni resists physical assault to an exceptional degree, and can withstand extreme abuse with only minimal consequence. When wounds do present, they do not fester, and even wide gashes neither bother nor hinder it unless they breach its core, which cannot regenerate lost contents. Its surface takes over a month to heal cuts any wider or deeper than an inch, however, and its inner flesh turns white and brittle when shone on by direct sunlight. It otherwise tolerates extremes of both heat and cold, immune even to a direct flame, though ambient temperatures of above 110°f cause it to become more active and leave thin black footprints as it walks.1

1.
"So, I followed those prints today, and I found something I had never seen before." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,103

Its voice is maddeningly on just the cusp of clarity, words nearly emerging but impossible to transcribe. It speaks in a deep, garbled tone, recognizably masculine in 64% of instances and never overtly womanly.

0.23% of helmindroni generate with teardrop markings. These "repentant"2 individuals display no other notable differences from their cohorts.

2.
"I could have killed them. I can't explain why I didn't." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,103
environment and generation

The helmindroni is an uncommon strain, able to generate only in cities already infested by both the helmintrobi and helminturi. Within these primed locations, it appears in the poorly maintained streets of industrial sectors. Most living plant matter discourages it, and a single well kept garden can ward it off entirely, though it tolerates certain noxious weeds and grasses.3 It has a particular attraction to asphalt softened by scorching heat, and on these surfaces it bubbles up as a small, soft black mass. This heap of rubber rises up in violent bursts, taking only seventeen minutes to fill completely, though having a tendency to pop and melt back into the earth below during such a turbulent formation.

3.
"Without meaning to, I encountered them again today. I didn't stay as long this time, but I stayed long enough to watch one of them almost stop for a two headed defect dandelion, and I might have even said it was appreciating it if I didn't know how brainless and hateful they were." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,108

19% of helmindroni generate with both arms on the left side, these "left handed" individuals having a slightly higher stability and seemingly no less coordinated in their movements. 0.5% generate instead with two right hands. Right handed helmindroni cannot ambulate at all, and die after several hours of pained writhing.

behaviour

In roving packs the helmindroni patrols its large, regular territory. Its personality is ill-mannered and brutish, compelled to acts of violence ranging from petty to grievous. In particular, it finds great satisfaction in vindictively destroying random elements of its environment. The presence of a helmindroni infestation is especially distinguishable through the trail of mangled mailboxes, sign posts, and garbage cans it leaves in its wake,4 these objects senselessly destroyed with ease by its crushing grip.

4.
"I can't get away from them, even when they're not here. They've become unwanted company, in that way. I could even call us best friends, me and those idiot lackeys, even so soon. It's not like the competition is stiff." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,172

Groups of helmindroni are loosely organized, with the strongest of them having more sway in the direction of their wander. Among themselves they jabber noisily and, from time to time, engage in simple games with litter such as boxes or cans. Squabbles are common, with individuals of higher status displaying bullying behavior towards the more meek. It shoves its companions to the ground, holds their snouts against the road while it pounds at their heads, and places its weight upon their tails to stop them from moving. Despite the vicious force of these attacks, injury—mild, accidental, or otherwise—is extremely rare, the durable stranger tolerating all assault and acting only vaguely offended by such indiscretions.

From time to time, an entire group of helmindroni may simultaneously become violently enraged by a single object. Most frequently, these offenders either depict images of humans, or imitate the human form in some way, and an irate group will suddenly hone in on these items and use their collective strength to obliterate them utterly. Statues, billboards, and murals are all toppled and crushed, only the most indestructible monuments standing a possible chance at surviving such an onslaught. Groups are only satisfied when the human form is totally destroyed5 and the object is beyond possible repair, and after much stomping on the remains they just as collectively move on with greatly displeasured huffing.

5.
"I'm pretty used to this sort of thing, by now, but I still winced when the biggest one among them twisted her bronze neck with its bare hands like it was clay and tore the head clean off her shoulders." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,111

Conversely, a single or paired helmindroni is much more uniform and passive in its behaviors. A pair of individuals do not attack one another, except for mild teasing, and its destructive impulses are limited to smaller objects like nails and bricks.

interactions with other strains

When the helmindroni spots another stranger, its reaction is immediately irate. Small and fragile strains it pursues to the best of its ability, grabbing them when able to catch up and bullying them just as it does its subordinates. Although its intention is never murder, its strength is so great that most of these victims do not survive capture, and those that do are significantly injured by the time a group grows bored of its torment.

Certain larger strains, especially those with whom it shares a disposition, it does not approach. Instead, it stops, becoming antagonistic in its behavior. It jeers, bellows, and shakes its head, a group becoming a raucous chorus of arrogant taunts. Although physically intimidating, the helmindroni's voice seems to almost hypnotically draw in targets, who approach it with swaggering confidence.

Despite its initial boldness, the helmindroni is cowardly in the face of attack from these incensed outsiders, and it does not retaliate even with its lethal strength. Instead, it acts completely victimized, screaming with agony at every blow, no matter how small. It allows itself to be easily toppled, and its only attempts at fighting back are feeble swipes at the air. Other members of the group do not come to its defense, retreating to the fringes of the skirmish to watch with mouths agape.6

6.
"..."rubberneckers". I get it." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,130

No matter how unrelenting the assault, however, the helmindroni is nearly impossible to kill. Within 20-90 minutes, the effects of its siren song fade in full, and the incited stranger gradually loses interest in such a fruitless task, returning to whatever its previous machinations may have been.

interactions with sensitives

The helmindroni behaves around sensitives as it does towards the usual prey of its antics, and approaches with slow but determined strides. Though difficult to escape once surrounded, it is otherwise not challenging to avoid, as it is hesitant to stray more than several yards from the road and does not enter interior locations whatsoever.

Once it has its target secured, it begins its petty attacks, pushing sensitives to the ground over and over and stomping upon their prone body. It does not seek to kill these play-things, nor does it even show much intent to inflict injury, but its great strength means that serious harm is not uncommon and even death is a considerable risk.

Upon the death of a sensitive, the helmindroni instantly loses interest. In this way, it also displays utter disinterest in human corpses. It is not discerning in its assessment of "death", however, and even someone who feigns dying or involuntarily passes out can lose their appeal abruptly. Otherwise, it is not deterred by violence and loses interest only after an arbitrary amount of time, after which it leaves its terrorized victim and returns to its wander. Five to thirteen days following one of these attacks, sensitives experience a sharp increase in intrusive thoughts about destroying both their surroundings as well as their own bodies. While not necessarily difficult to stave off, they are nonetheless unpleasant and mildly disruptive to everyday life7. A further 51% of sensitives experience a permanent but subtle decrease in fine motor skill in the right side of their body, an effect which is often percieved as instead a heightened precision in their left side, rarely even enough to switch dominant hands.

7.
"It didn't even occur to me until today that the thoughts might not be my own. It felt really good, anyways, and things can be replaced." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 1,140

Right handed helmindroni, for their brief time upon the earth, behave only as if deeply remorseful towards sensitives. They reach out with trembling arms to hold them gently against their fallen bodies, and do not impart any destructive desires whatsoever.

aging and death

The helmindroni's death is without warning. It becomes suddenly lame and collapses, able only to furtively clench and unclench its hands in this newly inert state, as well as some twitching in the tip of the tail. During its final hours, its voice becomes choked and terrified, crying out for mercy that its so called fair-weather friends will never spare. Some may briefly stay to gawk at its death throes, but all eventually leave to let it die in solitude.

The moment of the helmindroni's death is marked when it suddenly grows quiet and its skin instantly softens, running off its sides and pooling around it, exposing its now exceptionally fragile inner tissues. This brittle foam is quickly scattered by the elements, allowing its fluid core to pour out and boil away within the hour. Its only memento is an oily black stain upon the ground, never able to be fully washed clean8.

8.
"Since I'm in the area anyways, I decided I'd see if I could go find them, just to- to remind myself of something, I guess. Pretty dumb, in hindsight, but in the moment it was like this itch I had to satisfy. Well, I followed the footprints again, but this time the only thing at the end was the shadow of my best friends. The lot of cowards had moved on without me." Zener, Nice. personal audio journal, 5,203