number
189
substantative
phlegmatic
height
3 ft, 11 in
length
13 ft, 4 in
weight
225 lbs
size variance
4%
I.Q.
447
core temp.
94°F
stability
57%
prevalence
3.5%
constancy
30%
longevity
1-8 years
no. appearing
1
near
inhibited
physical appearance

The tantani (/tæn'tæni/) is an orange and yellow stranger with either twenty-five, twenty-seven, or twenty-nine arms, these arms emerging from beneath its tarp-like skin. Though lacking bones, the structured and rigid "human" arms support and carry the tantani with confidence. The "skin" color on each of the tantani's arms corresponds to the mean human complexion of the region; conditions such as vitiligo, eczema, or blotchman's1 thus appear as expected.

1.
"We'd called it Blotchman's Plague. It had started in the gallows-town, or what some along the edges still named Des Moines. First it was the skinny-babies that were born with it. I'm not going to lie and say we didn't think it might be useful at first, to know in fifteen, twenty years who all the upper-comers coming up from slum-town were – to have that kind of flag, you know? That was before the senator's own son was born with the stuff all over him. But the marks proved a useful bit of ornamentation in the next few decades...when we pitted city against city." Cornelius, Elliot. Collected Accounts of the Collapse, 83

The tantani's arms regenerate quickly when injured, and with little bleeding. Furthermore, the stranger is able to reject a badly wounded arm, the limb softening at the base and detaching; severed arms always regrow. The tarp, meanwhile, proves durable against most manners of fire, cuts, and rip-shreds, though its endurance cannot fully compensate for natural wear and tear. A tantani's age can be inferred from the fraying of its cape-edges, though such degradation does not affect its vibrancy, nor its stability.

The tantani refrains from vocalization.

environment and generation

This strain finds its necessary conditions in wooded non-parks, and appears near highways, in the suburbs, or at the outskirts of the developing urban sprawl. Proving fortuitous to its generation are tunnels, pine trees, unadorned cement barricades, rows of yellow humming lights, and dirt spread over cement. Each spawning point remains "active" for some time, producing upwards of forty tantani before losing its viability.

Within these auspicious zones, the tantani flutters into view in an infantile form. It first pulls itself with one hand, growing more co-ordinated as its size inflates stumble-by-skip and new arms reach downward to balance the skin's increasing weight. The developing tantani wastes no time in beginning its wander beneath rain-cover bridges and under shade of sycamore within these last few "wilds".

behaviour

The deft (if unrefined) tantani is characterized by a nomadic lifestyle and a restless complacency. Though tending towards treed spaces in its brisk roam, it is not averse to exploration. It chooses to travel on or along pre-existing paths (such as roads, above-ground pipelines, and fences) whenever possible, and forms neither routines, nor territories.

As it courses through the city, its attention becomes drawn by human objects2, which it grabs with one of its forelimbs, manipulates3, and then passes down the line. The stranger displays a distinct "handedness" in both the object it uses to grab the object, and in its subsequent handling of the item it examines (and ultimately rejects, with a dissatisfied fling). A minimum (21.9%) of tantani are right-handed, with the remainder displaying a left-hand dominance.

2.
Their tastes cannot be predicted. The odd bit of cloth here and there, a dead phone on a windowsill, a knotted cable, a chicken bone, a knife with a beheaded vile king etched on the side.
3.
Its actions equally "odd". It pinches a frying pan and strokes a yellow plastic bag. It does not try to open a book. It pounds its fist against an empty cigarette box. It pretends to read the poem.

A left-handed tantani is subtly emotive (embarrassed, awkward in its actions), and fidgets as it passes objects palm-to-palm. It scrapes its fingernails upon cinderblocks and human-cut boulder-rocks to cut them short, and in mud, its hand-prints fill up with blood.

A right-handed tantani, meanwhile, passes objects smoothly down its hands. Items, furthermore, circulate between hands for twice as long. In demeanor, it is rigid and constrained, when not coy. On white marble, it leaves behind bloody prints, and it uses human implements (scissors, et cetera) to cut its nails.

The rare "ambidextrous" tantani (appearing at a 0.0313332% rate) does not last long. Their maturation brings about contradiction, and as the divergent behaviours overlap4, so too does the tantani's stability drop5, leading its short life to a quick death.

4.
Grows frantic as it circulates held objects for hours, trails blood and cuts its fingertips with bladed edges, rigid and explosive in its responses.
5.
Overlapping errors, repeating errors.
interactions between tantani

It is inevitable that, during the tantani's travels, it will come across another of its strain. The subsequent interactions vary depending on polarity. A right handed stranger is gregarious, while those left-handed tend to be the more aggressive. Though territories are not maintained, perimeters are quickly established, with the left-handed tantani pushing the more docile from their path, and brusquely dismissing any further exchange.

Strains of the same handedness, however, are generally distanced, if somewhat less so in those right-handed.

The dead and dying ambidextrous stragglers are, expectedly, avoided.

interactions with other strains

All tantani attempt to touch the various other strains that their paths cross6. Despite this intrusion of personal space, even the vast majority of predatory strains do not harm or hunt a tantani. When able, they regard the wandering stranger with a distanced annoyance, if any reaction at all.

6.
Tapping at the endroni's sides, or trying to reach its hands. Tugging at the drosodroni a few times before giving up.
interactions with sensitives

A reclusive stranger, the tantani does not readily allow itself to be observed by a sensitive, and does not stop for one. The stranger is best encountered if confined to a large, but enclosed space. Given no way to continue its roam, the tantani grows quizzical, then patiently uneasy.

The stranger does not ceased waiting for an exit path, but does not move if one does not present. It will not approach the sensitive, but does not appear explicitly frightened.

It grows active and seeks a more immediate escape only when attacked. Physical force is left as a last resort, and only when the tantani is cornered. In defending itself, the normally apprehensive stranger uses its many arms to pin down and immobilize the sensitive. Its hands alone have more than enough strength to break limbs, which the stranger will not hesitate to do in order to ensure its own safety. It sometimes inflicts up to three fractures to the same bone, should the sensitive present themselves as an overt threat7.

7.
An assumption which undoubtedly leads to the deaths of many a novice stranger-hunter, who might mistake the tantani's unassuming demeanor as helplessness.

Physical contact with the tantani causes no physical harm to either the stranger or the sensitive. It does, however, change the appearance of the tantani's arms. For a tantani touched by one sensitive, the arms show a random half-and-half split; the arms of a tantani touched by five sensitives, meanwhile, shows five distinct arm "colors" in equal ratio. (Laterality of the arms depends furthermore upon the sensitive's own handedness.)

The tantani is not without its influence upon the sensitive, however. As the tantani becomes muddled with the outward form of its "all-too-human arch-enemy", so too, it tugs upon the handedness of the sensitive. After a sharp twitch and a dragging pain, the dominant hand reverses. After a diminished atrophic phase, there are no impediments to fluent motor skills in the new dominant hand.

Ambidextrous sensitives, meanwhile are soured ambisinistrous by their touch upon the stranger. Neither does the tantani come out unscathed, developing its own fatal ambidexterity. Following its expected "madness", the stranger dies twitching, poly-handed, and sharply crumpled.

aging and death

A tantani grows neither wrinkled nor excessively tattered with age; rather, it dies from the arms up. The limbs grow limp one-by-one in the final few hours of its life. The non-dominant side shows greater die-off at first, though the increasingly nervous stranger more-or-less balances itself until its final staggers into bush-cover, bag-pile, or whatever "shelter" can be found in its last dozen steps before its undignified end.

A tantani's corpse becomes putrescent, even the once tarp-like skin turning slimy and foul. It rots quickly - within one hour, the "arms" are no longer appear humanoid at all. The pile (drape and all) turn to mush by the end of a week.