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Charlotte Alexandra Longwood was born in 1892, to a family of country squires who traced their ancestry all the way back to the Norman Conquest. Her father was a younger son, who'd joined the Foreign Office because he had little taste for a career in the Church. Her mother came from New Money, a daughter and granddaughter of northern industrialists who'd inherited every ounce of their grit and determination, as well as their shrewd financial sense.
Charlie was educated by a succession of governesses and tutors. Her father was constantly on the move, posted from Embassy to Embassy throughout Europe and beyond, an average of every six months.
Charlie was fifteen when she discovered her father's collection of firearms hidden in the false bottom of a steamer trunk, and made the collection between it and his occasional mysterious nocturnal forays and sometimes-disreputable late-night visitors. The realization that he was a spy came as something of a relief - she'd started to wonder if the reason for his midnight wanderings was that he was having an affair. She didn't confront him about his real career, but she did start paying a lot more attention to what he was up to. He would have been appalled to learn just how much of his work she managed to observe, overhear, or deduce.
When Charlie was twenty, her father vanished without trace during one of the family's infrequent sojourns in London. Charlie knew that he'd been investigating something to do with a Franco-German industrial concern, and she had some idea of who he'd been dealing with. She quietly set out to learn the truth.
The truth turned out to be more unbelievable than she could have imagined. Her father had thought he'd been dealing with a simple foreign spy ring hiding behind the facade of an international business. What he was actually investigating was a conspiracy - or a cult - that was using psychic projection to communicate with entities with another dimension, which were feeding the cult technological secrets in return for unspecified future favors.
Torchwood were also investigating the conspiracy. They watched, impressed, as Charlie not only located their headquarters without their help, but staged a fairly spectacular diversion that allowed her to rescue her father while his guards were distracted. The Institute wasted no time in offering her a job. Charlie, who had wanted to follow in her father's footsteps for years but had never imagined that it might be possible, accepted eagerly.
In 1922, Torchwood One acquired a most unusual artifact - an ancient Egyptian mummy case which was clearly a disguised piece of alien technology. They were at a loss to know what it did, until the lid dissolved into a spinning vortex of light which disgorged a seemingly random assortment of advanced tools and weapons. They were still studying this unexpected bounty a few months later, when the mummy case activated again, hurling a screaming Cypher into the heart of their London headquarters.
Torchwood assigned Charlie to Cypher as an "aide". Her role, though vaguely defined, was basically to get the greatest possible use out of his knowledge and abilities while ensuring that he didn't try to escape. They developed a quirky and wary relationship, but one based on mutual respect, and when Galen appeared in London to rescue his brother, Cypher offered Charlie a chance to experience a wider universe.
Born into a society where her substantial talents weren't even acknowledged, let alone utilized, Charlie has a deep-seated need to challenge herself and prove herself. She also has an abiding curiosity that drives her to place herself in the center of events, just so that she has the best possible view of what's really going on. Principled, loyal and (for her era) broad-minded, she nonetheless has a strong streak of pragmatic ruthlessness when she thinks the situation calls for it.
Calm and self-possessed, Charlie has a sly, subtle wit and a nearly constant air of faint amusement, as though absurdity of the universe were a unending source of amusement to her. Perhaps it is...