The tomodari (/toʊmoʊˈdɑːri/) is a brown and inanimate stranger with thin and slightly ridged stripes. Its solid body is composed of a soft, springy, foam rubber-like substance. The tomodari almost always appears in a sitting, upright position, with a standing height of between three to four feet tall. The tomodari's posture displays only slight variation, with 45% of tomodari holding one hand to their face, and 55% holding two. Its base and tail always remain affixed to the ground, as though glued in place, and the tomodari springs back to its original shape and position when pushed over. Although this stranger lacks any flesh or organic components, it does possess a minimal regenerative ability, although this rate of regrowth is so small as to be unnoticeable over any span less than several years.
The tomodari is found in a wide range of locations, but prefers domed alcoves and other areas which amplify sound waves. In addition, it is much more likely to appear in places with a constant level of low volume ambient sounds, such as a quiet alleyway around the corner from a busy square, a rooftop overlooking a schoolyard playground, or in the rafters above spacious conference halls and event centers. As it requires only a small amount of level surface area on which to grow, it can appear on unusual locations, such as on top of stacks of boxes, on the decorative ledges of tall buildings, or atop certain posts or lights.
The tomodari first appears as a tiny, wrinkled lump of rubber-like material, which expands to full size within several hours. Tomodari always appear in linked pairs of "twins", and this trait dictates a large amount of their behaviour and effects. Pairs of tomodari act as a single entity, and appear and die at the same time, regardless of distance between them. Some form just a few feet from one another, whereas others appear hundreds, if not thousands of miles apart. Pairs of tomodari are linked in all ways, and any wounds inflicted on one tomodari manifest simultaneously on the other. Individuals do not mirror pushing and pulling motions inflicted on their companions, however.
During formation, it is rare, but not unheard of, for one twin to manifest in a location in which it cannot expand to full size, such as beneath floorboards, or underneath a dumpster. This is sort of error in formation proves fatal for both individuals, as its companion, as well, appears only as a crumpled lump.
The tomodari is a stranger that possesses an even-tempered nature, and can be best described as a living speaker. Each tomodari broadcasts the ambient audio its twin picks up from its surroundings, which it projects from its upper body in a cone of sound radiating outward from its face. The sound of a bell chimed near one tomodari, for example, rings out from the mouth of the other, at a volume consistent with the original sound's level of volume, and with little distortion. There is no delay in this transmission, regardless of distance.
The tomodari does not perfectly broadcast human speech, however. Although broadcasted laughter, gasps, and wordless shouts are essentially indistinguishable from the original sound, language is distorted with varying levels of severity. A woman who speaks near one tomodari may be broadcast by the other with a stutter, or a significantly limited phonetic pattern, to a point where any understanding of her speech is made difficult to impossible.
"We'd been hunting the things for a while. It had become a kind of game to us, for we were much younger at the time and prone to all sorts of nihilistic whimsy, I suppose that you could say. Usually, we either destroyed them or outran them. But this one, this little brownish one with such shock froze on its face, didn't seem to be much of a threat, nor was it much of a game either to cut or beat it although we did have our fun at first hitting it with sticks and watching it bounce back. So we left it alone. And I felt a little bit bad for the cuts we'd put across its snout.
We found the second completely by accident. We'd both thought it was the first, in fact, as it bore the same marks on its snout from our shenanigans the week before. But we could hear some sounds coming from its mouth and realized it was the crosswalk beep from near where we'd seen it the first time. So I stayed there while my friend traveled over to the spot, just a five minute's walk away. And I heard him through the creature's mouth, but he made only the most awful sounds and did not reply to a single word I said. I didn't waste a tick of time and then I ran to where he was, and there, he was fine, but said that I was making the same awful din from the creature on his end, too. So we cut the thing a few more times before we yanked it from the ground, and it shriveled apart and all its noises ceased, and that was the end of that, and it sure made me feel sheepish not to have killed the thing outright when we saw it the first time." anonymous, collected journals 88-22, 27
Tomodari appear as a trio 2% of the time. The individuals within these triplet sets transmit audio to both companions, and, in turn, broadcast both of their companion's ambient audio at once. One of these triplets, however, appears unnecessary to the function of the group, and tends to "malfunction" every so often by emitting loud, wailing sounds. This triplet can be injured and killed with no ill effects to the remaining twins.
Tomodari pairs appear in a conjoined form 0.1% of the time, usually connected at the back or side, but rarely, at the tail. These "siamese twins" broadcast occasional cacophonous feedback sounds, but otherwise, live and function with no ill effects.
Due to its immobile form, the tomodari displays no actions towards sensitives, and does not modify its broadcasting behaviour in any way when in their presence. When attacked or ripped from its position (the latter of which proving fatal), it emits a brief crackling tone (as does its twin), but causes no ill effects, and can be considered harmless.
When a tomodari is near a human corpse, its companion broadcasts audio in a voice which sounds remarkably similar to the deceased individual's voice during life. This occurs even when the tomodari never overheard the person's voice at all, as in the case of tomodari who form in the presence of already dead human beings. The broadcasting tomodari cycles through a number of vocal patterns, including laughter, angered speech, wordless singing, and fearful sobbing. Although this audio is almost identical to the deceased individual's former voice, the tomodari does not express language.
This broadcasting continues until the body is removed or decomposes to a skeletal state.
As it ages, the tomodari's voice begins to deviate from the ambient audio its twin picks up. 95% of tomodari project only slight divergences from the real sounds of the area, such as intermittent clanking, footsteps, or slight whispers. In 5% of instances, the tomodari displays much larger divergences, and broadcasts the sounds of raging fires, terrified screams, or the fevered shouting of angry mobs. The tomodari's body vibrates with daunted shivers when this happens, but otherwise, it remains immobile.
The tomodari displays the ability to move only at the very end of its life, when pairs of tomodari lower their hands from their mouths, yank their tails from the ground, and die in curled-up poses on the ground. Pairs die in unison, and with complete synchronization in their actions. Their corpses dry out within several days, and their presence causes any living tomodari within a half-mile radius to project loud, distorted sobs, which cease once the corpse decomposes.