The hitodramera is a stranger with a highly variable appearance. It is characterized by its three sets of eye markings, the first and largest of which is perpetually closed with decorative protrusions, and the two smaller sets unadorned and often a different color entirely. Its skin is loose, baggy, and soft, and the colors of its stripes vary wildly between individual hitodramera. The body is composed entirely of a viscous, acidic black ooze, similar in consistency to hot tar, which smells faintly of blood and leaves red-to-purple stains similar to cherry juice if handled excessively. The skin can be softened further, turning it tar-black in the process, and the hitodramera may deform its own skin before resolidifying it and allowing color to return, allowing it to have variable limb configurations.
As the hitodramera's body is a liquid, and easily deformed and reformed, it is difficult to cause lasting harm to a hitodramera using physical force. Lacerations and punctures seal up in moments, and impacts simply fail to injure it. However, it recoils from them as if pained, so can be stunned, and is sensitive to freezing temperatures. If frozen, its body can be shattered, killing the stranger. Heat does not seem to cause this strain any notable discomfort or pain.
The hitodramera speaks in the voice of the sensitive killed during its generation, but with a degraded quality, as if recorded, played back, and re-recorded digitally a few times over with imperfect equipment.
The hitodramera only generates under extremely specific circumstances, but if there is an active stranger infestation within the city, and the conditions are met, this stranger will always generate without fail. The hitodramera generates within the body of a sensitive who has been murdered by another sensitive in a specific ritualistic manner1, starting moments before death. The victim's blood is displaced by the hitodramera’s black fluid, starting within the brain tissue and rapidly spreading throughout the circulatory system. As the sensitive dies, the forming hitodramera dissolves their tissues and adds them to the growing mass, leaving only a hollowed-out skin and bones behind as it fully emerges, continuing to grow steadily over the course of the next eighteen hours until it reaches its full size.
The hitodramera's disposition depends heavily on that of the sensitive who was murdered in its generation. The stranger reacts largely as the sensitive would to any given stimulus, and most hitodramera will speak intelligibly when a sensitive attempts to interact with it. It is largely thought that the hitodramera simply retains a copy of their memories and believes itself to be the deceased human; there are small inconsistencies, the largest being that they are unable to communicate the name of the deceased sensitive. However, some believe that the murdered sensitive’s identity and self are truly trapped in the stranger and given control of its body.
The hitodramera tends to be somewhat aimless, and wanders the city or closely follows a sensitive who will tolerate its presence. It often attacks other strangers that it perceives as a threat to humans, with varying degrees of success depending on the target strain.
The hitodramera periodically feeds on organic matter; this strain tends to prefer items suitable for human consumption, but all organic material seems to have the same effectiveness. Food is swallowed whole, then dissolved by the hitodramera’s acidic ooze. The hitodramera does not need to feed, but its physical strength is heightened if it has recently fed. It may act mildly distressed if it goes too long without feeding, but its body mass does not diminish, nor does it weaken.
The hitodramera is generally agreeable towards sensitives, though in many cases not towards the one who caused its generation. It approaches cautiously, seemingly aware that it will appear off-putting, and attempts to initiate communication. If attacked, most hitodramera will choose to flee rather than harm a sensitive, but this varies by individual.
If their presence is tolerated, the hitodramera can be spoken with, something otherwise unheard of among strangers. It speaks in a way consistent with having the memories of the sensitive killed during their generation. The hitodramera communicates with sensitives through both its distorted but humanlike voice, and by directly imparting emotions and sensations into the sensitive's mind. These thoughts and feelings are instantly recognizable as coming from an outside source, but are felt as strongly as if they originated from the sensitive. In turn, the hitodramera reacts to surface thoughts of the sensitive it is speaking with as if they were spoken aloud, perceiving these thoughts with more clarity the closer it is.
In some instances, the hitodramera will attempt to access a sensitive's mind at a deeper level than its passive surface thought and feeling detection. It requires physical contact to do so, and the process often causes a great deal of distress to the sensitive, as well as triggering migraines in 15% of instances and seizures in 9%. Affected sensitives become mentally linked to the hitodramera and have their ability to discern the boundaries of their self slightly degraded, particularly with regards to the hitodramera and to any other sensitives affected by the same hitodramera. The more a sensitive resisted the process, the more strongly this effect occurs; a sensitive who didn't resist may only perceive themselves as an extension of a collective when prompted but otherwise show little change, while a sensitive who put up a great deal of resistance may end up unable to differentiate between themselves and the stranger.
All individuals linked to the hitodramera in such a manner can communicate as if the barriers between their perception and thoughts were removed, sharing feelings and intention alongside words. Affected individuals may start to spurn communication with non-linked individuals, or try to persuade other sensitives to become part of the same hitodramera.
The hitodramera is capable of fully mentally assimilating the memories and thought processes of additional sensitives to the same degree as the initially sacrificed sensitive, which requires the intended target die while enveloped in the hitodramera's body. A hitodramera that does this will display more erratic behavior, almost as if it is arguing with itself about what to do, but have no changes in stability.
The hitodramera will generally attempt to consume the corpses of recently-deceased humans, both sensitives and non-sensitives. The hitodramera may act distressed, have a guilty demeanor, or be especially moody for a few days after doing so.
The hitodramera's lifespan is entirely dependent on whether it has mentally linked itself to any living sensitives. As long as it has at least one living linked sensitive, it will not show any signs of aging. A hitodramera that has not connected itself to any sensitives, however, will, after 59 weeks, slowly begin to ‘bleed out’ into the minds of nearby sensitives, memories and feelings slowly dispersing into the population. This process lasts 9 days, and can be stopped but not reversed. When nothing is left of the identity it absorbed when it was generated, the hitodramera dies suddenly and without a fight, losing its acidity and collapsing into a puddle of inert black ooze that decomposes and washes away at a similar rate to organic fluids.