The haledroni (/ˈheɪlədroʊni/) is a sinewy, red-and-grey stranger characterized by its enlarged head and jagged, yellow teeth. Its skin is smooth and feverish, and leaves behind an oily residue when touched. Its white hands and feet are exaggeratedly large, while its tail is comparatively short. Its flesh is black, while its body cavity is filled with bright red intestines which float in near-boiling blood. The flesh within the haledroni's mouth is a striking crimson shade, and its tongue is thick and pointed. The haledroni reeks of blood and metallic alloys, and leaves behind this odor in faint traces wherever it goes. While its oily skin makes it flammable, the haledroni resists burning, and this stranger can even survive the heat of a furnace. It heals from small cuts within minutes, with even deep wounds closing up within several days. Scarring, however, remains evident in the form of light-colored patches.
The haledroni speaks through a voice that is masculine, rasping and rapid in pace, its speech a nonstop ramble of incantations, expletives, and desperate growls. Its language is characterized by its large number of trills and retroflex consonants, along with limited, non-sensical fragments of human language.
The haledroni appears in a wide range of environments1, but always on roadways or large, concrete-walled passageways of some kind, such as underpasses, maintenance tunnels, and abandoned garages. It never appears in any environment which receives direct sunlight, and prefers dim, yellow-tinted lighting. When the haledroni first appears, it rises from the ground as a black, oily mass, which it then sheds to reveal its body.
The haledroni's disposition is vicious and unpredictable, its every seething motion laced with furious desperation. When it moves, it does so with a hunched-over posture, capable of limited bipedal locomotion. Highly territorial in nature, it restricts itself to a small area, inside of which it paces in circles and scratches at the walls like a caged animal, hissing at any light that shines into its lair. The haledroni's demeanor is marked by its constant agitation, and even when standing still, it bites at the tips of its fingers or pants and gasps through tightly clenched teeth, as though forever out of breath. When it speaks, it clutches its head between its massive hands, shaking slightly as it does so. The haledroni also appears to suffer from semi-frequent nausea, and at irregular intervals, it sways from side to side before vomiting up a stream of blood, which sizzles and dissolves upon hitting the ground.
Although interactions between individuals are rare due to this strain's self-isolating, territorial nature, confrontations between haledroni are not unheard of, and these fights are short and savage, always ending in death for the weaker individual.
The hale displays uneasiness towards animals, and sputters at the intermittent stray creatures that may wander through its territory. Despite its size and aggression, it appears fundamentally fearful of new stimulus, and as such, tends to shrink away if these animals approach, attacking only as a last resort. It does not consume organic matter.
The haledroni is drawn to the human form. In this attraction, haledroni can be categorized into two personality types – overt and inert. Overt haledroni (which comprise approximately 87% of individuals) covet objects which resemble human bodies, such as dolls, action figures, mannequins, and full-body articles of clothing, in addition to photographs, posters, and other two-dimensional depictions of the human body. Fifteen percent of overt haledroni display attraction to objects and images which resemble the human form only incidentally, as well, such as oddly-shaped stains on the wall.
Inert haledroni (which comprise 13% of individuals) do not take interest in the entire human body, however, and, instead, display interest only in the head. As such, they seek out objects which overt haledroni ignore, such as masks and styrofoam wig heads, and even display interest in electrical outlets or other shapes which resemble iconic, simplified faces. Even when they do covet the same objects as overt individuals, such as dolls, their focus is limited to the head.
Regardless of its personality type, once the haledroni has found an item which catches its interest, it covets it with singular focus, ignoring all outside stimulus. At first, the haledroni shows a great deal of compassion towards a coveted object, and holds it in its palm or strokes it as though comforting it, and contact with one of these objects does, briefly, appear to quell its fervent temper. Even in this subdued state, however, the haledroni's fundamentally destructive nature remains evident, as it cannot help but occasionally yank, twist, or bite, or scratch at the object of its affection. Eventually, it wears the object down to a point where it no longer resemble a human form – at this point, the haledroni turns agitated and aggressive once more, and slams its head against the walls around it, scratches at its arms and torso, and even grabs and yanks it own tongue, as though attempting to pull itself inside-out. This self-destruction continues for hours, as the haledroni strikes its eyes, cracks its teeth by biting concrete, gnaws off its fingertips, and drives sharp objects into its side.
Once this rage subsides, the haledroni collapses in a vulnerable, huddled pile, often while staring at the scraps and fragments of the now-destroyed object of interest. Healing slows following these self-injurious episodes, indicating that the haledroni may exert some conscious control over its regenerative abilities2. Eventually, however, joints realign, deep gashes heal over to leave pale scars behind, and new teeth grow back to replace those cracked or broken off, the haledroni's smile growing more jagged and uneven each time.
The haledroni initially stands still and seethes when a sensitive is nearby, before it approaches with wary but riveted attention. At first, it displays non-aggressive behaviour, and strokes the sensitive's cheek, caresses their neck or shoulders, or whimpers with shuddering appreciation as its fingertips stroke the joints in a sensitive's fingers and wrists. Due to this lack of overt aggression, there are those sensitives who might mistake the haledroni for a gentle giant, despite its fearsome countenance.
Within several minutes, however, the haledroni grows violent, and snaps the sensitive's hand, or drives its fingertips between their ribs. It attacks with frenzied vehemence, and twists, yanks, and bites the sensitive, lifting and slamming them against the ground as easily as a child would swing a rag doll.
The haledroni only stops attacking once the body (in the case of overt haledroni) or face (in the case of inert haledroni) no longer resembles a human form. This means that it is not unheard of for sensitives to survive an attack, although prognosis is typically grim due to the severity of the injuries caused by this stranger. Following these attacks, just as the haledroni grows saddened by the loss of coveted objects, so too does it become sorrowful and despondent once its victim's form has been similarly degraded.
As the haledroni ages, its internal organs liquify, and it expels a thick, bloody substance from its mouth. It grows weaker as it loses more and more of its internal structure in this way, until it collapses and dies with a hacking, livid scream. Its corpse remains for several weeks before it decomposes, melting into a dark, oily substance. Other haledroni display fear towards any haledroni corpses they find, and give them a wide berth.