|Played by FashionistState|
Minutes after speaking to Raz following Basic Braining.
First and foremost, Sasha possesses a strong intellect. He’s an analytical and logical thinker who is fascinated with the extraordinary aspects of the world. Indeed, his primary knowledge is of parapsychology - that is, in a universe where psychic and other paranormal phenomena are actually plausible. In addition to this, he has been travelling around the globe for about three quarters of a decade so he has quite a bit of experience with dealing with unfamiliar territory, and he is able to quickly plan out survival tactics in a tight spot - however these generally only involve his psychic abilities, so if he were to be robbed of them he would most likely have quite a problem on his hands.
Before Sasha came to Pandora he was a very strong Psychonaut - in other words, a psychic government agent. He still possesses an array of well-controlled psychic abilities, described below.
By placing his Psycho-Portal (which would appear to be a miniature wooden door to anyone else) on the head of just about any living being, Sasha can astrally project a version of himself into the mindscape of another person, exploring their mind, discovering their past and personality, and perhaps even helping them overcome their psychological problems. During this exploration, the mind-owner will be able to stay in touch with the real world but Sasha's real-world body will appear to be in a trance. He will awaken when his astral projection is 'killed' or when he wishes to leave, at which point he can remove himself from that mind and return to reality. In especially urgent situations someone may be able to communicate with him by sending telepathic messages to him or physically shaking him so he is aware that he must return to real life.
He may project into the mind of anybody, including himself (which doesn't require the Psycho-Portal) - except anyone under the age of eighteen. In accordance with Psychonauts regulations, the Psycho-Portal will simply not work on minors.
Through astral projection, Sasha can access his memories more efficiently by ingraining different events into specific sections of his mindscape, represented by a large greyscale glowing cube where all his memories, thoughts and emotions are stored within. This system is not flawless, of course, since he is still only human and is unable to remember everything he has ever experienced or studied.
Physically, Sasha has a lanky frame not suitable for melee combat, and this is why he relies on his psi-blasting in battle. The psi-blast is essentially a representation of Sasha’s negative emotions; it is shot directly from his mind as a semi-rapid weapon. It manifests itself as an electric-blue surge of light and it has the potential to do great damage - it does not cause any visible wounds but still hurts considerably if you have the bad fortune to be hit by one. Excessive use of the ability on humans can cause serious psychological damage for the target of the attack. (To give a canon example of this damage, the psi-blast is shown to be capable of ‘splitting’ the psyche, resulting in Dissociative Identity Disorder. See History.) However, he does not generally need to use it that. For all its power, the psi-blast is incapable of piercing metal - and its strength may be weakened somewhat if it has to get through thick clothing to reach its destination.
Sasha is one of the Psychonauts’ best fighters not only for his good aim but because he keeps incredibly strict control over his own negative feelings, meaning he can easily convert his concentrated emotion into firepower. He may psi-blast multiple targets at once as a chain, wherein the blast will ricochet off each opponent to hit the next. But Sasha will always be limited by his emotional capacity: if he were to fire off a lot of blasts in a very short amount of time, he would eventually exhaust his will to do damage.
The second important staple in Sasha's style of combat is his psychic shield. For a limited period of time, the shield will cover his whole body with a blue glowing 'force field', which will protect him from damage. It will last for about two minutes before it fizzles out, and he must wait for his psychic energy to recharge before being able to use it again. It is able to reflect projectiles, including psychic and (presumably) magic ones. He may also use it in short bursts to shield himself from periodic threats, for example a psi-blast from an enemy. He can’t move while shielded, nor can he use any of his other powers - except levitation - until the shield is lifted.
He's fairly decent at running, but Sasha has never really needed to be too athletically flexible thanks to his strong levitation. He may comfortably levitate up to the height of, say, the top of a two-storey building. But as he ascends, his stability at that height will decrease. At the highest he may only be able to stay levitating for a minute or two with his best concentration. When he eventually falls, levitation will help him pace the descent for a smooth landing.
Sasha is telekinetic and is able to psychically pick up, throw or use a good number of small objects at once - up to about seven or eight. In terms of larger weights, he may lift the maximum average weight of about one adult human, though he would struggle to move them about.
He is also able to use pyrokinesis, which allows him to control and start fires - or increase the temperature of something - with some concentration. He may set anything alight (save, of course, fireproof materials). It's possible for him even to set people on fire, but as this takes a lot of effort he believes that there are better ways of besting opponents. Besides, he has been a little out of practice due to an ex-working partner's painful memories surrounding fire.
Sasha may become invisible for about five minutes, but he can extend that time a little by staying still and focusing entirely on his lack of presence. Similar to his Shield, he can't use any of his powers other than Levitation or they'll break the effect.
Deeper in his arsenal is Clairvoyance - that is, the ability to see through the eyes of another person, or even the lens of a camera. While using this, Sasha can still move and use his other abilities, but he might lose track of himself if the person heads elsewhere.
Sasha - and many other psychics in his world - cannot use precognition. It is an ability you cannot just develop with time. It is also incredibly rare to be born with it and to be able to train it to an advanced (e.g. voluntarily usable) level. However, he has gained a level of psychic intuition from unconsciously absorbing the thoughts and emotions of the people around him, and this can make him a bit wiser to the outcomes of the choices he makes - even if he's not quite sure why himself.
Finally, Sasha can telepathically communicate with people from great distances and even on different astral planes. So if he was in one mind, he'd be able to communicate with someone else in another, or even someone in the real world, or vice versa. As long as he knows who he's directing the message to, it'll reach them - unless they have put up some kind of barrier blocking incoming thoughts. However out of principle he will not read a person's mind unless one of these two conditions are met: they have given him their permission, or the circumstances are deemed to be incredibly important - for example, if there are dire consequences if Sasha were to leave their mind be.
But despite all of this, Sasha isn't really the type to use his powers in public, at least if they're not necessary. To him, the psychic world is still a secret hidden dimension to life that only opens itself up to the people who need its help.
To finish off his weaknesses, he's currently pestered by a nicotine and caffeine addiction, and he’s still only human so anything that can kill a normal human can kill him, particularly if his psychic abilities are unable to come into play.
Sasha is a firm believer in organizing his own emotions, storing unnecessary thoughts away for a more appropriate time, and engineering his mood so to fit his current situation. This is partly so he can avoid unnecessary stress and partly so he can use his specifically negative thoughts later in combat (see Skills). However he is aware of his limits and that attempting to control all his thoughts would only cause further problems. His mind could consolidate too many unwanted feelings at once and then metaphorically 'blow', producing a sudden influx of all those feelings at once. But he may utilize people's presumptions that he is some sort of 'control freak' in order to lead them to do something specific, like incurring unreasonable demands upon them in the knowledge that they will take a different option or rebel. But more often than not, he will take a patient but persistent route in order to get what he needs from a person.
Sasha's strictly-arranged psychological state has made him a very calm man who could even be considered a true stoic, given his frequent refusal to display strong emotion. Even without his psychic self-interference he is just not the sort to be outwardly excitable; he is unlikely to go into a rage. It takes a lot to anger Sasha at all; even if you put lives at stake he will do his best to maintain something of a calm demeanour, although he will feel obliged to do something to combat your actions. If he thinks there is something behind your behaviour - such as mind control or psychological disarray - he may try to gain access to the cause of the problem via astral projection.
Many people get the impression he's cold and distant... yet this is completely untrue. He enjoys quiet company and conversation; he just prefers to ensure he is not intruding on the other person's thinking space first - he certainly needs that kind of space himself. And although he might seem borderline emotionless, Sasha actually has something of a playful nature, displayed most frequently in his eccentric sense of humour. He’s not above making sarcastic remarks if he thinks the situation calls for it, and he happily shares in-jokes with close friends. He’s also surprisingly good with children because he tries to take them 'seriously' in a world that might not otherwise - particularly if he thinks they show potential. Perhaps this is because he wishes his father had not brushed his inquiries (see History) aside during his own childhood.
From the age of twelve, Sasha has been immersed in the psychic world, and he is quite aware of the fact that many in the mundane world could reject his powers as mere 'hoaxes' or try to exploit them for their own gain. This is why he prefers to keep his psychic powers hidden where possible. However in Pandora he will gradually learn he does not need to be quite so careful: there are others with supernatural abilities out in the open, many of whom he would be interested in studying.
As already mentioned it is clear that Sasha possesses a highly scientific and logical mind, and he is curious about the world's 'abnormalities': its psychics, wizards, talking animals, et cetera. But his constant search for solid information - and, by extension, scientific progress - can often be seriously dangerous for those involved, and that includes himself. In the past he has shown blatant disregard for rules, regulations and safety in the name of an experiment that might or might not produce compelling results. Yet perhaps thanks to his heightened intuition, the risk has almost always been worth it in the end.
One more note regarding his scientific pursuits: during an experiment that requires a lot of work on his part, Sasha may take up rather unhealthy regimes out of some skewed perception that the work will be done more efficiently as a result. He is likely to completely stop sleeping, refuse to talk to anyone unless absolutely necessary, and will only keep himself awake with massive amounts of coffee. He may forget to eat.
Sasha has very specific aesthetic tastes: he prefers his surroundings to be minimalistic and modern, with a pleasant, non-distracting colour scheme. He doesn't mind a little clutter if there is a meaning to its being there, but he tries to keep himself and the general area around him as hygienic as possible. He dislikes gaudy and 'tacky' things, particularly Tiffany lamps... but perhaps he truly hates those because he saw one during a traumatic early-childhood moment.
Sasha is open to telling you about his past... but he's not really the type to tell someone his life story if they don't ask for it and he doesn't feel the need to explain it. And even then he'll probably try to divert the discussion to their history, since he would almost certainly find that more interesting. He has always been hesistant regarding entering a sexual relationship and, so far, has successfully avoided entering one himself. He fears he has prolonged an Oedipus complex long into adulthood. But thankfully he has never been sexually attracted to anyone (if romantic attraction is another thing entirely), and he would never allow himself to be completely defined by his past.
Sasha is tall, skinny, and has a very pallid complexion. In canon he is actually light green but for the sake of avoiding in-character confusion, we'll just presume that a more realistically 'human' Sasha would be merely incredibly pale. His jaw is rather noticeably square, and his short jet black hair is parted to the side. He constantly wears thick-rimmed orange-tinted shades, regardless of the lighting conditions of his current environment. But if he could ever be coaxed to take them off, you would find that his eyes are dark brown and almond-shaped.
Sasha walks with a disciplined (albeit natural) gait and he generally displays excellent posture unless tired. He has a deep voice with a German accent. His preferred clothing is well-fitting and fairly practical but still rather stylish; he is fairly confident with regards to what suits him. The outfit he wore when pulled into Pandora was composed of a jacket, trousers and gloves, all of a matching dark green, with a cream striped turtleneck sweater and some well-made black shoes. It is likely his further acquired outfits will follow suit with regards to preferred colours and overall style.
Sasha Nein was born in Germany; he was an only child and a shoemaker's son. Both his parents loved him dearly, but his mother died when he was still a baby and he could not remember her very well: in fact his clearest memory was that his father was absolutely devastated. As an older child he became an apprentice under his father, assisting to make shoes for the Nein business, which was quite successful and had a good local reputation.
As Sasha grew older, it became more and more apparent that he was different from the other children. He was beginning to develop his psychic abilities, and he soon discovered that he was able to read minds. Now, as his father had previously brushed aside the child's questions about what his mother was like, Sasha made it his mission to find out more through mind-reading. He discovered that his mother was compassionate, beautiful, now one more angel in heaven. But he also came across a sexual memory, which, at the age of twelve, deeply disturbed him. Unable to look at his father in the same way, he ran away from home, intending to fly to the States and start a new life.
He attempted to surpass security by attempting to psychically create the illusion he had a passport and ticket. It didn't work long enough for him to be able to board the plane... but the Psychonauts found out about the psychic runaway. They had cared for - and recruited - plenty in the past, and it was surprising that a young adolescent displayed such fluent telepathy, so they took Sasha into their care for the time being until his guardian could be located.
The boy had put up such powerful mental barriers that none of the agents could discover the identity or location of his father - not even Ford Cruller, leader of the Psychonauts. But Cruller discovered that this was due in part to the fact that Sasha's mindscape was in massive disarray: it was completely chaotic, in fact. He assisted the young psychic in beginning to organize his mind into something comprehensible. Ford trained him in further abilities, and it was becoming clear that he had the potential to be a great agent. It all seemed like the perfect future plan to Sasha. Still under the care of the organization, he began to study all that he could about the psychic world, determined to eventually become a Psychonaut himself.
In his early twenties, Sasha finally made it as an established agent. He was introduced to his new working partner, Milla Vodello. He found Milla's love of retro aesthetics to be a little off-putting but it was clear that they had an excellent professional chemistry and their psychic specializations (levitation for Milla and psychic combat for Sasha) fit together well for the missions they were assigned. Together they would save lives, gather intelligence, and fight sworn enemies of the psychic world. Sasha grew incredibly close to her; he would go as far as saying he had fallen in love with her. But in fear of his past coming back to haunt him - in addition to potentially shattering the dynamic of their professional relationship - he never told her.
Sasha and Milla would occasionally work with the rather military-obsessed Morceau Oleander, who would later go on to found Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, a camp for psychic children. This was a mere few years after Ford Cruller developed Dissociative Identity Disorder following a terrible defeat in a psychic duel. He stepped down as Psychomaster to be replaced by Truman Zanotto, but kept the job of alerting Nein and Vodello about new missions.
The duo became regular guests at the summer camp; Sasha now had a laboratory away from home that he could use to test the abilities of the campers with the most potential. But none of them seemed to have quite the power he was looking for, and Milla would never forgive him if he hurt a child with a particularly taxing experiment.
This was until the camp's fifth year, when the ten-year-old Razputin Aquato broke in uninvited. Although he was due to leave in a few days when his parents came to pick him up, Sasha immediately sensed the boy's power and invited him to his lab for some ever-so-slightly unauthorized tests involving a Brain Tumbler, a device that would pull Raz into his own mind. But he never got to find out how Raz would fare, as he was dragged down into the ground by black cords mere minutes before Raz would have entered his lab. And the next thing Sasha saw was Pandora.
Nein. He just got here.