|“||What is human? An ability to reason, to imagine, to love or grieve? If so, we are more human than any human ever will be.||”|
Sensates, or Homo sensoriums, are a species of humans that are telepathically connected to each other. Every sensate is part of a group or cluster of sensates and members of a cluster can connect and communicate with each other wherever they are in the world.
Recent estimates say there are thousands to tens of thousands of sensates across the globe with the number steadily rising, which Jonas attributed to epigenetic factors.
Sensates are born indistinguishable from ordinary humans but posses a dormant connection to their cluster that must be activated by a sensate outside of the cluster, referred to as the clusters parent. Once the connection is activated every member of the cluster is "reborn" as sensate. Although an unborn sensate is essentially a human, not all humans have the potential to be reborn as a sensate. Before this connection is activated sensates are, for the most part, ordinary humans with the exception of occasionally forming a psychic link to other sensates via direct eye contact, like Will Gorski with Sara Patrell or Riley Blue with Yrsa when they were both children/unborn sensates. However, these connections are not as strong as those of "reborn" sensates and may not form even with eye contact, as seen when Lito Rodriguez met Raoul Pasquale and, though they felt a strong connection, no sensate link was created due to Lito being an "unborn" sensate. After the birthing, the psycellium, a psychic nervous system present within all sensates, becomes active and allows the sensates to telepathically and sympathetically connect to their cluster. This connection grants the sensates in the cluster three main abilities. These abilities are visiting, sharing, and their psychic link.
The members of a cluster are all born on the same day at the exact same moment and are said to share their first breath. At the beginning of a cluster’s rebirth, the parent visits each of the sensates in the cluster then the cluster begins to experience severe migraines for a few days. The physics of the sensate connection involve an intangible substance called psycellium, a psychic nervous system. This connection can be temporarily cut by ingesting blockers, disconnecting them from the psycellium and temporarily turning sensates into ordinary humans again.
It is unknown if any sensate can give birth to a cluster or if a sensate requires something to give birth to a cluster. A sensate that is capable of birthing, can give birth to a cluster regardless of their gender and age and can give birth multiple times to different clusters. This is evidenced by the parent of Angelica and Jonas's cluster, an old Thai man who birthed multiple clusters throughout his life totaling 80 sensate "children", and Angelica Turing who birthed 2 clusters before her death. The parent's memories and experiences are also transferred to the sensates in the cluster, like how biological parents transfer genes to their children. This is why the parent of a cluster can resonate within it even after they die.
From Jonas and Yrsa's comments it can be presumed that the biological children of a sensate can inherit the same sensate abilities as their parents. However, like any genetic disposition, it can skip generations and siblings of sensates may not display sensate abilities, for example Daya Dandekar and Teagan Marks have not shown the same sensate abilities as their respective siblings. Ruth El-Saadawi was also not a sensate, but her twin sister was. However, it is possible for siblings to be born sensates, evidenced by twins that were shown as a part of the Archipelago. The reason for this is epigenetic factors, which entails that environmental factors have an influence on the genetic profile without actually changing the individual's DNA.
"You will start to feel strange things... You will feel snow in the middle of the summer, rain when there isn't a cloud in the sky. You'll feel anger and joy and pain... pleasure, without any reason." - Jonas, in I Am Also A We
Sensates within a cluster are mentally and emotionally connected. At first, the connection manifests as sensory input, where one sensate experiences something with one or more of their senses something another sensate within their cluster is experiencing at that same moment. Gradually, their link strengthens to the point where they feel each other's thoughts and emotions (at times even memories).
Main Article: Visiting
"Visiting is not calling or texting someone. It's not something you make happen. It is something you let happen." - Jonas, in What's Going On?
Visiting happens when sensates mentally communicate with each other. Sensates are seemingly mentally transported to each others' locations and experience everything the other feels within that environment. Sensates communicate with other sensates telepathically but often speak out loud when visiting another sensate and appear to be talking to no one by outside observers. However, sensates can learn to communicate and interact with each other purely in their minds without speaking as evidenced by Wolfgang's encounter with Lila Facchini.
Visiting is done instinctively within a cluster, especially when they are in need of help. But visiting can also be done with other sensates outside of the cluster. This is only after physical firsthand, eye-to-eye contact has been made. For example, Jonas was able to visit Nomi after physically making eye contact, but Whispers was unable to visit Nomi despite seeing her through the eyes of another sensate, Niles Bolger. A sensate can also learn to prevent visiting sensates from seeing their environment, as evidenced by Bodhi. There appears to be no limit to the number of connections sensates can form through eye contact.
Visiting often works hand-in-hand with a sensate's psychic link; utilizing both, sensates can access any of the five senses through a fellow sensate, allowing them to perceive the world around them through another sensate's eyes. This also includes physical contact, such as with one another.
It is not possible to visit a sensate when they are heavily drugged or unconscious, but it appears visiting is possible when the sensate is asleep allowing sensates to share dreams with one another, as evidence when Will Gorski and Nomi Marks shared an inherited memory from the mother of their cluster Angelica Turing while they were both dreaming. Is also possible for a sensate that is flatlining to visit others, as shown by Kala.
Main Article: Sharing
Sharing is when a sensate accesses the knowledge, language and skills of another sensate. Sharing can only be done inside the cluster. In the case of skills, sharing allows a sensate to physically control a fellow sensate as they watch; this is seen when Wolfgang allowed Lito to lie for him, or when Will watched as Kala prepared an injection for Riley. Sharing can also be done by sensates outside of the cluster through an unknown procedure by BPO which involves lobotomizing the sensate. As suggested by Angelica and Jonas, sensates feel the purest form of emotions, sensations and feelings.
- Riley Blue
- Kala Dandekar
- Wolfgang Bogdanow
- Lito Rodriguez
- Capheus Onyango
- Sun Bak
- Will Gorski
- Nomi Marks
- Jonas Maliki
- Angelica Turing
- Mr Whispers
- Niles Bolger
- Sara Patrell
- Todd McCarver
- Raoul Pasquale
- Lila Facchini
- Old Man of Hoy
- Carol Cumberland
- The Mother