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His honesty never fails to impress me, if not convince me".
Cardinal Borusa was never one to mince his words, and his assessment of Cypher was undeniably accurate. But, as Cypher would have pointed out in his rare moments of (unfeigned) honesty, that was how the game was played in Gallifrey's stagnant, duplicitous society. If he was better at playing it than someone of his youth and inexperience ought to have been, it was hardly his fault. The politicking and double-dealing were just a way to break the tedium. Another was his private hobby, computer hacking. He became very adept at breaking into various restricted computer files full of the Time Lords’ most embarrassing secrets, including the careers of the various renegades. He had a certain amount of admiration for some of their exploits, but no desire to join their ranks, despite his boredom with life on Gallifrey. Any fool could toss the rules away completely and become an outlaw; true skill, in Cypher's opinion, lay in pushing the boundaries of what you could get away with within the rules, or at least apparently within the rules.
It was with that philosophy in mind that he charmed and schemed and manipulated his way into a technical support post at the Academy’s History faculty, serving as a pilot and technician on off-world research expeditions. It was, he thought, a perfect way to get to experience the outside universe without becoming a wanted fugitive. He wondered at the time why Cardinal Borusa didn't raise any objection to the appointment - and also why he greeted the news as if he were enjoying a joke at Cypher's expense.
After six months and two field trips serving as errand boy and general factotum to a bunch of elderly, curmudgeonly, unreasonable, demanding, half-senile old professors, he'd managed to figure out the punchline, but he was grimly determined not to let Borusa have the last laugh. He developed a habit, whenever the urge to murder his charges got too severe, of relieving the stress by taking the TARDIS they'd been assigned on extended joyrides, returning a few seconds after he'd left so that they never realized he'd been away.
He found himself hailed as a minor hero when he returned to Gallifrey after rescuing the three missing members of the Badonicus expedition. He "modestly" turned down a promotion that would have forced him to spend more time behind a desk at home rather than out in the field, but at least his increased status reduced the incessant flow of complaints from his wards. If only a little.
The approach from the Celestial Intervention Agency came as a surprise, but not a completely unwelcome one. The Agency was aware, Coordinator Vansell told him bluntly, of his habit of taking unauthorized personal jaunts while he was on field assignments, but they were perfectly willing to turn a blind eye, as long as Cypher were willing to use the talents he'd already demonstrated on the Agency's behalf.
Cypher didn't much care for being used, or blackmailed, but he couldn't resist the challenge that Vansell's "offer" represented - not only to succeed in potentially difficult and dangerous assignments in the outside universe, but to advance himself in the ranks of the Celestial Intervention Agency on Gallifrey as well. Boredom, it seemed, was unlikely to be a problem in the foreseeable future...
Opinion is divided regarding Cypher's personality. He likes to call himself a diplomat and a conciliator. Most people who know him prefer terms like “con-man” and “conniver”… and that's just his friends. The words his enemies use are quite unprintable. Friends and enemies alike, however, would agree that he's primarily driven by the challenge of out-thinking and outwitting his opponents, using deception and charm rather than brute force. One of his proudest achievements at the Academy was to be accused of excessive deviousness by a Prydonian Cardinal. He's since found that the wider universe offers him more scope for his “diplomatic” talents than Gallifrey ever did.
To strangers, Cypher likes to present the front of an innocent ingénue, friendly and trustworthy but a little gormless. Among his friends, he's mischievous, irreverent, and constantly on the look-out for the next scam. To friends and strangers alike, he has an easy charm and a marked air of joie de vivre.