“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”
Classic, Heroic, Romantic, Gritty, Angsty, Social
CHILDHOOD: Sam was born to a poor family in Cumberland County, Kentucky. His parents were hard-working, law-abiding good people who were part of a tight-knit mining community that looked after its own. Sam had a blissfully happy childhood until he began to take responsibility for younger siblings and became aware of how tight money was, how dangerous Pa's job was, and how hard Ma had to work to make ends meet. It was still a happy time but Sam had to work hard and pick up skills, everything from mending to hunting, to help out. Sam didn't question why it fell to him to act as the third adult, at least not much, and on some level he liked the sense of purpose it gave him. When he and Pa hung out together, Pa treated him like one of the guys, which he loved.
YOUTH: Sam's Pa started getting sick when he was just ten, but it wasn't like Pa could stop working. Sam did his best to take on more around the house, skipping school to hunt, clean house, and to watch the kids, until Ma pulled him out and let him study on his own time. He took his skills out into the neighborhood and worked jobs for anyone who needed an extra pair of hands. There were more and more kids to wrangle all the time, Pa got sicker and couldn't work at all, and it fell to Sam and Paige and even Jay to wrangle kids and keep the house going when Ma worked.
TEENS: When Sam was in his teens, Pa finally died of lung disease. Sam gave up on the idea of school entirely and signed on to work in the mines, checking dust levels and air quality to start. He was down in one of the new sections when a cave-in brought the roof in on him on one of Pa's old friends. They would have died except that Sam's mutation manifested and shielded them even as it blew them out of there--Sam simply couldn't die and leave Ma alone.
NEW MUTANTS: Turns out Sam had to leave Ma alone anyway when Professor Xavier offered to help him control his power. Sam loved being a New Mutant, being around other kids and having fewer responsibilities than before. But the New Mutants didn't stay out of trouble. The loss of his close friend Doug was too much for Sam. It also made him realize that he wasn't making use of the other abilities he'd been given, that being a mutant wasn't the be-all and end-all of a person. He went home to use his other skills to take care of his family.
HOME LIFE: Back home, Sam picked up forestry work during fire season, leading to his placement as a volunteer fire fighter when he turned eighteen. He also finished his GED and started, then completed, a degree in biology through internet and local college courses. The rest of his time was taken up by maintaining the family home and taking care of the kids. When he turned twenty-one, however, his Ma kicked him out to return to Professor Xavier and to make his own way in the world.
Sam took training in tactics, hand-to-hand, and aerial combat while at Xavier's the first time. He continued that training as best he could at the local MMA gym and on his own.
When Sam uses his power, the energy under his skin gives him incredible durability and resistance to damage--a close-contact involuntary version of his shield.
Sam is a backwoods kid who can handle handguns, rifles, and even semi-automatic weapons. Guns are tools where Sam comes from, and a common form of entertainment, so he's comfortable with them. He's never had to shoot a person but has a lot of hours both hunting and shooting at the range.
Sam can generate thermo-chemical energy and project it from his skin. When directed through his feet, the energy can be used to propel him to great heights at great speeds, he controls speed and direction through force of will.
Through his work for the fire department over three years, Sam has taken numerous classes in emergency medicince and has practical experience in delivering that care. Having nine younger siblings also gives him plenty of understanding of managing common illnesses.
Advanced development of Sam's power allows him to direct through any part of his body the same power that gives him flight and shielding ability. This blast is the same as the propulsion force that allows him to fly at supersonic speeds, focused as primarily kinetic energy over a medium range.
Sam can use the energy he creates to form an impenetrable and nearly indestructable shield. He can use that shield to protect himself, extend it to others, and shape the field to imprison someone else. The kinetic energy of blows against the shield can be absorbed and redirected or reflected outward as explosive shock waves. The shield does not protect against radiation or extreme temperatures.
Sam is able to survive out in the wild, even able to adapt that skill to urban settings once he gets a feel for the place. Between living hand-to-mouth at home and living rough with his dad and friends, Sam knows how to make his way in the world. Other kids went to summer camp, Sam got dropped off in the back of beyond with his canteen, his pack, a knife, some string, a compass, and a promise to not forget to come get him this time.
Sam is an good hunter and tracker as long as there's something more than concrete involved. While he's at a disadvantage in the city he knows what he's doing out in the country--anywhere there's a bit of nature--and can reliably track game or people so long as they're not equally skilled at avoiding discovery.
Sam is always calm and collected in a crisis. He can focus and cut through the chaos, prioritizing necessary actions quickly. Being the oldest of ten children and training as a fire fighter have given him the necessary experience to stabilize and organize his thoughts this way.
Sam belongs to an extremely rare subset of mutants known as Externals. While the reason for his secondary mutation is unknown, the effect is that he ages very slowly and is able to recover from most deaths within hours. It is possible to kill an External permanently but there is no way to tell which death will be the last. Upon manifestation, Externals join the weak telepathic gestalt that makes each of them aware of the others, especially within planetary range. At present, there are no other known Externals, nor is Sam aware of his secondary mutation.
Sam is great with kids. He has a natural affinity for them, the ability to put them at ease, and the sincere charm needed to win their trust and affection. Also, he can make a toy out of just about anything on hand... he's almost always wearing socks, after all.
Sam can cook, clean, comfort, and make something out of nothing like only the sidekick of a widowed mother of ten can manage. It's not just a common ability, it's uncanny. He's his Ma's best student so far and seems to have inherited her unnatural ability to keep order on only a few hours sleep. Sam is also fantastic at fixing anything from plumbing to cars to fire equipment. He has advanced carpentry skills; training in plumbing, welding, and electrical work; and a good understanding of auto mechanics.
Sam's been the 'third parent' in his home life and has done some difficult work over the years he was home. Emergency and rescue work often ends poorly and he's had to learn to cope with that. Coming back to Xavier's, it took him a little while to find his footing but his developing leadership role with the Outsiders has given him the final boost he needs to feel 'grown'. Presently, he's still a young man in years but he's able to keep his centre and his confidence like someone much older. He's able to take advice and give orders, even in the same moment, put his own needs aside for others, and other qualities that usually come with much more age and experience.
Sam is welcome in Professor Xavier's home and organization and can draw on the resources there as needed.
Sam's accent and bearing often make people with more money, especially city folks, take him less seriously. He often gets dismissed as being uneducated, stupid, or a 'redneck'... even 'inbred'. The bigger the class divide, the more he'll struggle to negotiate a social situation. The flaw isn't in Sam as much it is in others but it affects him negatively.
His father's slow, suffocating death, the dark depths of the coal mines, the cave in that nearly killed him... Sam has, over the years, developed a creeping case of claustrophobia. Finding out that Doug died and was buried and yet wasn't dead at all has only strengthened his nightmares of being buried alive and crushed to death. Sam's power itself is antithetical to confinement, only giving more power to his instinctive loathing of tight spaces and entrapment.
Surface Dyslexia is a reading disorder in which it is easy to read words one knows but every unknown word or odd variation of a known word is like hitting a pothole at high speed. Sam has a good vocabulary and good comprehension, but he has to work at parsing new words, which makes learning very difficult at times. Sam is not a good reader in general, not helped by his Hyperopia.
Sam's powers only work when he's deliberately activating them. If he loses the ability to focus his will through extreme distraction, exhaustion, unconsciousness, or other factors, they shut down within thirty seconds.
Sam really thinks the best of people, or wants to. He'll talk himself out of thinking poorly of people because it's "not nice" to think ill of folks. Sam comes from a world where everyone is so intertwined it's rare for people to be outright awful because it's in no one's best interests. Bar brawls and shouting matches--hell, even taking potshots at someone--might be a regular occurrence back home but at the end of the day everyone's got their neighbor's back. Sam struggles to understand evil and malice and often fails to be aware of them looming until it's too late.
Sam has excellent vision at long range, far better than most people in terms of distance and clarity. That's very important when one can go as fast as he can. At distances starting around "indoor" distances, his vision is still clear as long as he can focus. The strain of focus grows as the object of his focus reaches reading distance. Hyperopia makes it hard for Sam to follow lines of words on a page, track video games and television shows, and can cause tiredness, headaches, and general frustration. Most of what Sam does in domestic terms, he can do without focus, relying on other senses to fill in for him. Learning, on the other hand, is very hard to achieve, especially when one can simply claim a flawed intellect and do something 'useful' instead.
Flaw:Out of Control
Sam has always had a terrible time controlling his power. He suffered awful embarrassment--and did a ton of property damage--when he first got to Xavier's. He still hasn't nearly mastered the full potential of his power. While his days of crashing through walls are behind him, he still has moments when his will falters or his emotions surge and his power gets away from him. He's better at recovering these days but it still looms as a possible catastrophe every time he takes off.
Sam has experienced a number of traumatic paranormal events that have left their marks on him in general and especially where death is concerned. Sam's ability to accept death and cope with it is severely compromised. His fears of the dead not being dead intersect very badly with his fear of claustrophobia. His stability and maturity help him cope with this in most cases but his sleep can be disrupted by panic and he is forced to avoid even peripheral mention of death and especially any kind of burial, cremation, or internment.
Sam's energy supply is depleted with use. After high-intensity or long duration use of his powers, Sam has to stop and rest in order to recharge. He can replenish a portion of his energy by absorbing kinetic energy from an external source but that requires his powers to be working to some degree. If he's out of juice, he's out of luck.