Sepia - [link]
Sasha's - [link]
The second, some Milla speculation.
Because there's kind of a huge gap between 'all her orphans burned to death' and 'Milla is one of the best Psychonauts'
'NOTHER TEXT DUMP
My assumption is that the fire was when her powers first manifested. Honestly, the first time I flipped through that vault I thought they were implying Milla had accidently started the fire and a part of me spent the rest of the game waiting for the revelation that Milla was A: An intensely powerful pyrokinetic even if she hates using it or B: Unable to use pyrokinesis due to trauma. Turned out I was just flipping to fast. But the idea kind of stuck with me.
Either way, I feel like there was a very harsh period of her life in there somewhere.
Part of this is taking into account my theory that psychics, while very powerful, are also in some ways quite fragile. They have a higher rate of mental illness and when they do go crazy it tends to be much worse than non-psychics.
Milla finds it initially impossible to let go of the children. The nightmares have taken a deep root in her psyche and manifest as the constant screams and whispered accusations. Her guilt becomes quickly unbearable, paired with her newly acquired and unstable powers she very quickly begins losing the battle for her sanity.
In desperation she starts asking if other people can hear the voices, this paired with her erratic behavior lands her in a mental health facility where her condition quickly tanks. The Nightmares take a deep root in her mind, Milla has little to no control of her psyche anymore.
Another side duty I could easily see the Psychonauts having is taking care of wayward psychics, therapy and the like. Ford realizes he cannot defeat her Nightmares for her but takes responsibility to teach her to deal with them herself.
The initial foray into Milla's mind finds her 'trapped' in the burning orphanage, unable to move passed the horrific events. Ford works with her until she gains control of some of her powers, learning basic skills ect.
Milla face her inner demons in time and comes to the realization that while she can never completely destroy them she has to learn to deal with them and move on with her life.
She contains the Nightmares instead. Unfortunately this means that from time to time she has to face them again.
Milla opts to continue training with Ford to eventually join the Psychonauts. She sees this as an opportunity to continue helping those in need and hopes that someday she can make up for her perceived failure to protect her children.
Milla's rebuilt mental world centers very much on her ability to fly and the sense of freedom that helped her find, almost to the point of desperately reinventing herself. She overhauls her mental world to fit her new life, but a small portion of her mind still retains the worst of her traumas. One room of the orphanage remains sequestered away.
Ford understands that these demons are they kind we never really put to rest, but Milla has learned to confront them when necessary and live her life as best she can despite them. It's the best victory she could have hoped for and, like Sasha, Ford has given her all the help he can.
I just like the idea that Sasha and Milla both have these deep rooted problems that they've learned to live in spite of. I think its more powerful when you acknowledge that part of who you are is the baggage you carry with you and how you deal with it.
Next up: A brief look at the first couple years of our favorite Psychonauts partnership