Tweak says, "thank you Unsolved Mysteries"
Still, higher education is expensive. He earned his pre-med degree, but when it came to what was next? He just... wasn't sure he really wanted to actually be a doctor, and that was the sort of thing you really needed to be sure about before you committed to the intense workload and buckets of student loans. Instead, he decided to take a break from pure academia to join the military for some real world experience. For their part, the military was pretty happy with this decision, too.
He ended up staying for a five year contract before bowing out and moving back into research. He was a different person now - older, more mature, more aware of the real extent of life's ugliness. It seemed amazing to him that life could be such a complex combination of systems and parts all working together perfectly, when at the same time it was so easy to simply end it with barely even a conscious thought or intention. He was fascinated by function, and with current understanding of the inner workings of major parts of the human body essentially amounting to a very intellectual-sounding ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it was clear he had plenty of ground available to cover.
He still had some contacts from his military days, though, among them the now-Colonel Nick Fury. The two reconnected when Sam was in his late 20s, and from then they remained in intermittent contact. The mission to Tunguska was not the first time Sam had been back in the field; he had already more than proven himself to Fury. In a world characterised by the sheer bedlam of mutants, human experimentation and unstable personalities with too much power, Sam was refreshingly grounded (no pun intended) and, well, sensible. He had the all-too-rare ability to focus on what needed to be done, to be driven without letting his ambition compromise his judgement or ethics, to be a realist without letting cynicism overwhelm him.
At the base of it, after all, he's motivated by a fascination with life that, while it expresses itself largely in a more mechanically-inclined fashion, has been tempered by parents steeped in the humanities. He isn't just interested in how the Kree were able to genetically engineer such dramatic transformations as to allow a member of their own race to pass as human; he's also genuinely interested in Mahr-vehl as a person, winning the alien over simply by treating him as more than a specimen but as someone with higher thought and feelings, who deserved to be called by the correct name. And equal to that, he wants the same for himself. He demands that people recognise him as an individual, a privilege often not granted to those with his build and shade of skin, while tempering it with a much more low-key assertiveness than most nominally straight men in America would be familiar with. He can't risk being seen as physically threatening in the same way that men like Steve Rogers can, so he's learned to downplay it in favour of a kind of amiable openness tinged with sarcasm, all the sharp edges blunted by an invitation to join him in the joke. He comes across as cool more than angry, not the type to get too het up by the petty life dramas that often engulf the Ultimates. His pride is malleable and strong enough to survive temporary suppression when needed. He carries with him an awareness of just how fleeting life is that reminds him that sometimes the best way to win is simply not to play - but when you can, you play hard to make up for the ground you lost in between.
WHAT POINT IN TIME DOES YOUR CHARACTER COME FROM IN GAME?
Post-Future Foundation, before the Incursion between 1610 and 616 in the year 2016.
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