System Shock 2 music - Engineering

System Shock 2 music - Engineering

"Looks like you walked out of a goddamn nightmare."
―Sergeant Major Tom Renner upon first seeing Sparks
Date of birth:2223
Occupation:ANA soldier, member of Renner's Raiders
Status:Alive and Active

Sparks is a second generation synth who was taken from the Commonwealth and now resides in the Badlands Territory. It has borne many names and was rescued from slavery by Tom Renner and joined Renner's Raiders. Sparks followed Renner and cares little for politics, which has led to it becoming uncertain of what to do with itself after Renner's death.


Time in the Commonwealth

"We call him Methusaleh because he's pretty ancient compared to the rest of the synths we've got at the SRB. Most get destroyed pretty quickly but not old Meth. He's a tough ole bot."
―The then head of the SRB talking about a particular synth

The synth that would become known as Sparks was created in 2223 in the the Institute underneath the Commonwealth. Initially, the Gen 2 synth was placed in Facilities cleaning systems and transporting goods throughout the Institute. However, when the Synth Retention Bureau was created, the synth was commandeered to work for that division. It was given an Institute rifle and made to aid the SRB agents in the dangerous job of recovering escaped synths. The synth survived for almost a decade in the SRB, though it was more out of luck than skill. This amused the SRB agents, and the synth became somewhat of a pet of the Division as other synths came and went. He was nicknamed Methuselah for his age, and Meth for his physical condition as his outer shell took a lot of wear. Meth acknowledged its nicknames to humor the SRB but did not consider them its real name, considering its number designation to be its real name.

Sparks Commonwealth

Sparks in the Commonwealth

Meth's time ended in 2242. When poking around the Boston mayoral shelter looking for an escaped Gen. III synth, Meth and his SRB patrol was ambushed by raiders in their rear. Most of the SRB patrol managed to escape, but Meth got an arm shot off and a leg mangled. Losing his weapon, Meth's self-preservation protocols urged him to hide from the raiders. Unfortunately, the raiders came upon the damaged synth and deactivated it, intending to sell it as scrap.

However, the synth's path would take a different turn. A scavenger passing by the raiders' camp saw the robot lying motionless and mostly intact and wanted it immediately, to repair and use as a bodyguard possibly. First wanting to try to steal it, the scavenger determined this to be impossible and instead decided to try to buy it from the raiders. The scavenger, named Eliza or Eli for short, introduced herself to the raiders and asked about the robot (she was disguised a man to lessen the chances of her being raped). Eliza was surprised to find the raiders open to a deal and after a bit of haggling took the deactivated synth home with her home for repairs and a checkup. Holed up in a Red Rocket truck stop, Eliza set about trying to repair and reprogram the synth with the help of her mechanic sister Barb.

At first, the synth (formerly known as Meth) lashed out at when Eliza activated it, thinking of her as an enemy. Therefore, Eliza was forced to repair the synth only when it was deactivated, activating it only to see if it still worked or if perhaps the programming had finally worked.

This process lasted for three years. A seeminglessly endless cycle of activation, deactivation, repairs, activation, deactivation, and so on, it began to annoy Eliza's sister Barb to a large degree. In 2245, Barb had finally had enough. She wanted the robot out of the house but did not want to destroy it, as it would be a waste of Eliza's work, and she could not live with that on her conscience.

So instead Barb sold the modified synth to a band of traders passing by their Red Rocket truck stop. From there, the modified synth changed hands changed hands numerous times over the decades but was only activated occasionally. However, for all that time, the synth stayed in the Commonwealth, being possessed by the likes of the Triggermen and raiders. All of them tried to reprogram the synth to follow their bidding but failed.

The cycle was finally broken in 2259 when the synth was stolen from the raider encampment of Hangman's Alley by a thief named Cappy. Cappy had dreams of going west, and the synth would be the crux of the whole plan. When he arrived in more civilized lands, he would sell the synth to the highest bidder for a pretty cap and live like a king for the rest of his days.

Cappy first had to do some that all before him had failed to do: reprogram the synth more so it could be obedient to him. Taking the synth west of Boston to a hermit ghoul living in an old RobCo, Cappy managed to help out the ghoul "with a certain problem" and finally got the synth to be obedient to him. With that, Cappy named the synth Goldeneyes and began their journey west. Cappy handled the weapons while Goldeneyes carried the supplies.

Trans-Continental Enslavement

"You're one ugly motherfucker."
Tom Renner commenting on Sparks' appearance
Damaged Sparks

Sparks on his cross-country journey

Goldeneyes and Cappy had a difficult time starting out, making their way through the Glowing Sea avoiding dangers such as deathclaws, ghouls, and radiation. They barely avoided death and soon, Cappy was forced to hand Goldeneyes a weapon to help defend them. The synth proved quite handy with the weapon due to its previous service in the SRB. Although Cappy knew Goldeneyes was now hardwired to be passive towards him, he still did not trust the synth and always slept with one eye open, fearing it might kill him in his sleep.

As it turned out, raiders would be the death of Cappy, not the synth. In Pennsylvania, the pair were captured by raiders and interrogated. Cappy divulged his plan of going west and selling the synth to become rich. The raiders agreed with his idea and killed him, locking up the synth when it snapped out of passivity to kill two raiders.

The rest of the journey west for the synth (now known as Dirt) was spent chained in the back of a Brahmin cart, mostly deactivated to save energy. Dirt soon became familiar with the Brahmin cart and pondered its fate. Thr synth would probably never be able to return to the Institute now, and Cappy had changed it fundamentally. The synth thought more critically and had to consider before regarding people as enemies. This did not apply to the raiders, though.

In the next three years, the synth rode west in the Brahmin cart. It tried to escape numerous times but was always recaptured. Attempts made in Illinois ane Ohio were particularly close.

In 2262, the caravan carrying the synth arrived in the Badlands Territory, still heading west. The going got particularly rough after the caravan crossed the Missouri River, with attacks from Dakota and raiders increasing dramatically as they headed further west.

In the fall of 2262, the caravan arrived in Rapid City to take on supplies. There, they were met by numerous dangers such as feral ghouls and raiders but still managed to make it to a civilized settlement where they could take on supplies, Rapid Valley.

There, the raiders turned caravaners took a load off, leaving the wagons outside while they frequented the local bar. There, some of them let slip that they were carrying something of great value in their caravan. Some Dakota Regulators sitting in the bar, suspicious that the caravan was carrying slaves (illegal in Rapid Valley), asked if they could see the cargo. The caravaners tried to refuse politely but were soon pressed too far. One of the caravaners scared for his life, fired off a shot and all hell broke loose. A minute later, five caravaners were dead, and the rest were arrested.

The commotion at the bar attracted the attention of Sergeant Major Tom Renner who had just finished up the Regulators' training for the day. Heading over to the bar, Renner found the aftermath of the shootout and was informed of the situation. Renner became curious at what the caravaners were carrying that was so valuable and headed to their Brahmin wagons to find out. Looking through the first few wagons, Renner's and his men found a few crates of supplies and weapons but no slaves.

Coming to the last wagon, Renner opened the flap to find a skeletal humanoid robot chained up in the corner, trying to hide from him. At first, a bit off put by the robot's appearance, Renner climbed into the wagon to examine the robot more closely and asked its name. The synth, considering many of its previous nicknames (Meth, Goldeneyes, Dirt) decided to tell Renner its Institute identification number. Renner nodded at this and extended his hand, introducing himself as Sergeant Major Thomas Renner of the American Northern Army.

Renner's Raiders

"What are we doing today? We're getting you laid. Right boys?"
―Tom Renner before taking Sparks to the Silk Arches

After finding the synth in the wagon, Sergeant Renner took the robot back to the barracks to see if it remembered where it came from and what information it might hold. SD-1453 refused to talk a first but after some coaxing and promises of repairs, the synth decided to divulge some things. It told Renner that it had once been a soldier but had been captured on the East Coast and taken in a caravan further west to be sold in the NCR. The story intrigued Renner. Instead of asking more about the synth's origins in the Institute, Renner asked what the synth planned to do now that it was free. The synth admitted that after some repairs and repayment of the synth's debt to the Regulators over saving it, it would head back east. Renner accepted this pretty well.

The synth resolved to stay a month or two in Rapid Valley before heading back east to the Institute. It those two months, it got to know Renner, Renner's Raiders, and itself better. In the first few weeks, the Raiders gave the synth a new nickname, Sparks. This was for the synth's frequent malfunctions and need for repairs. The synth adopted this nickname as its newest name. The people of Rapid Valley were highly suspicious of Sparks for its horrific appearance and constant need for repairs. Tom Renner and his Raiders meanwhile made Sparks welcome wherever it went, as they viewed the synth as a possibly valuable asset due to its mysterious nature, obvious combat skills, and possibly withheld information.

To repay its debt to Rapid Valley, Sparks joined Rapid Valley's garrison and defended the town from raiders. Renner and his best friend Oberland especially focused on convincing Sparks to stay after its repairs and repayment of its debt to the Regulators. Although Sparks seemed somewhat amused at the two's efforts (which included buying the synth a whore), the synth still wanted to return east to the Institute. So, Renner and his friends decided to play dirty.

While Sparks while transferring from wall patrol, one of Renner's cronies jumped it and managed to deactivate it. Taking Sparks back to a garage, Renner and his friends explained to the Rapid Valley authorities that the synth "just needed some repairs" and would be back out in no time.

It took three months to reprogram Sparks and change the synth's primary priorities to focus on Tom Renner instead of returning to the Institute. Oberland did the heavy lifting and tinkered heavily with the synth's programming. After releasing and activating Sparky, Renner and his friends watched as the synth asked Rapid Valley's authorities if it could be released. The authorities let Sparky go and the synth immediately went over to Renner and asked if it could join Renner's Raiders. Sergeant Major Renner accepted the synth into his ranks.

From then on, Sparks became a prominent member of Renner's Raiders, though it may have been for the synth's monstrous appearance than its abilities, serving almost as a sort of mascot for the Raiders. The synth was not an exceptional fighter, but it still served as a loyal companion to Renner and the fear of the local raiders. The Rapid Valley locals learned to fear Sparks as well, viewing him as one Renner's freaks and misfits. This did not phase Sparks though and its devotion to Renner did not fade. It took a lot of damage over the years but kept on going.

Sparks' service in Renner's Raiders went unbroken for many years until 2276 when Vault 52 was occupied by Custer's American Army. When the time for the assault on Vault 52 arrived, Sparks was forced to stay in Rapid Valley as the synth would be too recognizable if it came along.

After the Battle of Vault 52, Renner's Raiders quietly left Rapid Valley to head north to Tall Town. Sparks accompanied them.

Upon arriving in Tall Town, Sparks and the rest of Renner's Raiders were greeted by a large welcoming committee, including President Myles Benteen and General Marcus Williams. This was mostly for Sergeant Major Renner, who was considered a hero by many in the ANA. All of the Raiders were given a handshake and a thank you for their service in the south. They did this for everyone, even Sparks who did not understand why. Benteen was suspicious of the synth, mostly for its monstrous humanoid appearance. Williams, however, was curious about Sparks and often asked Renner if he could have the robot to give to mechanics in Smithsforge to try to replicate. Renner refused, saying he did not trust the mechanics to successful replicate Sparks and did not think it was worth disassembling it. So, Sparks stayed with the Raiders in Tall Town.

After their initial arrival, Renner's Raiders stayed in Tall Town, waiting for their next assignment. During that time, Renner and his men took Sparks to Silk Arches to try to get the robot laid for a second. After some short haggling and "modifications", Sparks did the deed. After that, Renner, Sparks, and the rest of Renner's Raiders were unwelcome at the Silk Arches due to the fear of accusations of "robosexuality".

In Tall Town, any mutant, robot, or generally ugly person was free to walk the streets and not fear judgment (if you were not a slave, that is). Sparks seems to like this compared to its experiences in Rapid Valley, though that statement may have been just to impress the rest of Renner's Raiders.

Sparks and the rest of Renner's Raiders were finally reassigned in 2280. Dispatched north to fight off Canadian raiders, Renner's Raiders were stationed at the outpost of Freedom's Progress. For the first few months, everything was uneventful. Time passed slowly, and the Raiders played games to pass the times. Sparks always joined in to please Renner.

Then, word came of men to the north inside the ruined Yates AFB. Sergeant Major Renner went with some of his men to clear out the base, leaving most of the Raiders (and Sparks) back at Freedom's Progress. The synth always remembered that day.

In the evening, a ragged group of Raiders returned to Freedom's Progress crying bloody murder. Tom Renner was dead!


―Sparks upon hearing of Tom Renner's death

The news confused Sparks. The synth did not understand. It never would. Sparks was hardcoded to protect and serve Renner at all costs. It had failed. What could it do?

Revenge was the first solution presented. Sparks went along with the rest of Renner's Raiders searching for the people that killed Renner. They killed a few Canadian stragglers but not enough. Called back to Tall Town by the ANA, Renner's Raiders was then sent south again to assist Rapid Valley again.

Sparks was unsure of what it wanted to do but decided to stay with the Raiders until it could understand what it would do. The going south was made more difficult when the Generals' War began, cutting off the route south. Renner's Raiders managed to sneak past the RUSA's front lines after a month or two and came into Rapid City ready for war.

Renner's Raiders arrival was not noticed by Custer but by allied raiders and mercenaries instead. The Superiority and Rockers, both ANA allies, had been reluctantly working together to try to break the RUSA's siege of Rapid Valley. Renner's Raiders were the answer the two groups needed. An assault on the RUSA's siege lines was executed.

Sparks took part in battle as part of the vanguard along with the rest of the Raiders, and the Siege of Rapid Valley was broken, with the RUSA forces withdrawing. Sparks took up residence in Rapid Valley once again. Fear of the synth emerged once again, and some in Rapid Valley even spread rumors that it was the "Steel Skull" that had offed Renner. The raiders of Rapid City also heard of Sparks' return and quite a few became scared of what many had assumed to be a ghost story. A brutal metal skeleton with piercing golden eyes that would not stop hunting you until you were dead.

Currently, Sparks is still in residence in Rapid Valley, staying with the rest of Renner's Raiders. The synth still had an existential problem with its objective in life being failed unless it could be reprogrammed. What could a synth do? Sparks did not know why but it stayed with Renner's Raiders. It just felt right, and that is enough for Sparks.


Sparks' current personality is one obsessed with its former "friend", Tom Renner. After Renner and his cronies reprogrammed Sparks, the synth's primary focus was switched to loyalty to Tom Renner and nothing else. This worked for Sparks up until Renner and his programmer died in 2281. With its primary focus in life lost and any chance of reprogramming gone, the synth has had something of an existential crisis. Sparks goes through life one day at a time, not knowing what its future may hold.

Being a synth and a robot, Sparks has little grasp of social cues and often misinterprets sarcasm and jokes. Some see it as it as endearing, others as an annoyance.


Sparks used to be a pristine Gen 2 synth but is now in a skeletal state. He sometimes wears clothes but often does not, depending on his attitude. His eyes are a dark shade of gold, and that unnerves some people.


Sparks often carries weapons such as pistols and knives, but its favorite possession is a photo of Tom Renner it keeps in a locket.



"Now I realize what I must do. A new name is needed, one that I must adopt."
―The moment before Sparks adopted its current name with help from Renner's Raiders


"Sparks' a total creep, I'll give you that. However, the bot can take a hell of a lot of damage, and he's a loyal soldier. He'd fight till he was spare parts if we asked."
―Sergeant Major Tom Renner on Sparks to General Paula Hopper
"I took way too much."
Edward Taylor spotting Sparks from a distance
This has been written by MongoosePirate. Please contact this user before editing this article.
Northern Commonwealth