Synth Retention Bureau

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Synth Retention Bureau
Fo4 Institute SRB.png
Notable Members




HeadquartersInstitute SRB
The Institute

The Synth Retention Bureau, or S.R.B. as the division is colloquially known as, is a branch of the Institute tasked with the recovery of of escaped or lost synths, intelligence gathering, and combat operations in the Commonwealth. It is effectively the military arm of the Institute.[1]


Synths are the primarily labor force of the Institute,[2] but the more advanced their processing becomes, the more inevitable that the synth will attain consciousness and attempt escape.[3] As third generation synths are indistinguishable from normal biological humans,[4] the Synth Retention Bureau specializes in the capture of runaways.[5][6]


The primary instrument of the SRB is the Courser, a third-generation synth assigned to operate on the surface. Coursers hunt down and reclaim synths that have escaped the Institute. They are highly self-sufficient, trained in combat, infiltration and tracking. In a word, Coursers are relentless.[7] Coursers are selected from the general third generation synth population. Due to the variability of the manufacturing process, the SRB constantly monitors the third generation population looking for tenacity, fearlessness, and independence. Synths selected undergo a rigorous training regimen. They are taught armed and unarmed combat, investigative techniques, psychology and mechanical skills. Those who pass a final evaluation become Coursers, re-registered as X synths (eg. X6-88). The rest have their memories wiped and return to their former duties.[8]

Synths are usually recovered by using a recall code to wipe their memories and render it inert. Once returned to the Institute, the delicate process of restoring the neural pathways to their original configuration begins. In those cases where the procedure is successful, the synth returns to duty with no memory of its time on the surface. All too often, the SRB staff is unable to repair the damage and is forced to dispose of the unit entirely.[9]


As part of the Institute, the SRB has access to the most advanced technologies in the wasteland, including Courser uniforms with ballistic armor, mass-produced energy rifles, swarms of last-generation synthetics, and of course, a nigh-impenetrable security system based on the revolutionary Code Defender pioneered before the Great War.[10]

Their secondary asset is the Watcher Initiative, a Commonwealth-wide surveillance network using synthetic avians as observers.[11][12]


The S.R.B. first makes its appearance in Fallout 3, through the introduction of Armitage, Harkness, and Dr. Zimmer. In Fallout 4, the S.R.B. and all of its glory appears, within its headquarters at the Institute.


  1. Scope of quests and tasks presented in Fallout 3 and Fallout 4.
  2. The Lone Wanderer: "Sounds like slavery to me. You sure they don't "wander off" on purpose?"
    Zimmer: "Nonsense! This is a machine we're talking about. Can you enslave a generator, or a water purifier? Of course not. The same principle applies. But let's get back to your mission. You are to find this missing android. I've tracked him to somewhere here in the Capital Wasteland. He must have done something drastic, like facial surgery and a mind wipe, or else I would have found him by now. It will be no easy task. He may not even realize he's an android. Don't upset him by talking with him. Just come get me immediately. I'll handle it."
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  3. The Lone Wanderer: "Why would an android feel guilt? Come on, Zimmer, what aren't you telling me?"
    Zimmer: "By God, you're as annoying as you are clever. Very well. I'll tell you what you want to know, if it helps you locate my property. The duty of this particular unit was the hunting and capturing of other escaped androids. Yes, others have escaped. It's one of the side effects of having such an advanced A.I. Machines start to think for themselves. Fool themselves into believing they have rights. And so... this particular android may have believed he'd done something... wrong. Immoral. And wanted to forget those deeds. Satisfied now?"
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  4. The Lone Wanderer: "I need to know more about what I'm dealing with. What is an android exactly?"
    Zimmer: "Forget everything you know about robots. Those buckets are mere children's toys compared to the real thing. Androids have fake skin, and blood, and are programmed to simulate human behavior, like breathing. They can even eat and digest food realistically."
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  5. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "The Synth Retention Bureau is tasked with the retrieval of "escaped" Gen 3 synths - malfunctioning units whose self-aware AI has convinced them that they are, in fact, alive."
  6. The Lone Wanderer: "I've found your android. It's Harkness, Rivet City's security chief!"
    Zimmer: "Harkness, you say? Yes... Yes, that makes sense. He used to work for a special branch of the Commonwealth Police, after all... And he's right here in Rivet City! Excellent! I must wait... find an opportune moment to confront him... Thank you for your discreet assistance, and continued discretion regarding this matter. And now for your payment. This combat module will directly affect your central nervous system. I think you will find it quite beneficial."
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  7. Justin Ayo: "So, here you are. Justin Ayo, acting director of the Synth Retention Bureau. I'll be up front with you. We're going to be keeping a close eye on you for the near future. Despite your relation to Father, you're a bit of an unknown quantity. I'm sure you understand. There won't be any... issues, will there?"
    The Sole Survivor: "Why don't you trust me?"
    Justin Ayo: "I'll be honest, you're an outsider. The first outsider to be allowed access to the Institute in quite a long time, in fact. There's little precedent for this situation, so it's only natural to take extra precautions. It's nothing personal, I assure you. Now, Father has asked that I provide you with a brief overview of the Synth Retention Bureau. Our primary responsibility is the recovery of escaped synths that are hiding among the human population on the surface."
    (Justin Ayo's dialogue)
  8. The Sole Survivor: "You mentioned that Coursers undergo special training. Tell me more about it."
    Justin Ayo: "The SRB constantly monitors our gen-3 synth population, looking for specific traits. Those who show tenacity, fearlessness and independence undergo a rigorous training regimen. We teach them armed and unarmed combat, investigative techniques, psychology and mechanical skills. Those who pass a final evaluation become Coursers. The rest have their memories wiped and return to their former duties."
    (Justin Ayo's dialogue)
  9. The Sole Survivor: "I'd like to know more about the synth reclamation process."
    Justin Ayo: "Fine. Once a Courser has located a rogue synth, it uses that synth's recall code to wipe its memories and render it inert. We then begin the delicate process of restoring the neural pathways to their original configuration. In those cases where the procedure is successful, the synth returns to duty with no memory of its time on the surface. All too often, we're unable to repair the damage and are forced to dispose of the unit entirely."
    (Justin Ayo's dialogue)
  10. Liam Binet: "Just a few high security doors, right? Controlled by cutting-edge SRB security tech. Yeah. A head on hack is the sucker play. So we go at them sideways. You're willing to help, right? I can't do this alone."
    The Sole Survivor: "What do you need help with?"
    Liam Binet: "Our core security architecture hasn't fundamentally changed from the old CIT days. The original security program was called Code Defender. Revolutionary stuff. We still have terminals running version 1 mothballed in storage. With some persuasion, I can get an old terminal to interface with the new security terminals. Enough to open doors, at least. Problem is I can't even crack version 1. So I need a good old fashion username and password, and that's nowhere to be found in the Institute. But if you could get me a pre-war admin password from the surface, I could log right in."
    The Sole Survivor: "Where would I find that?"
    Liam Binet: "Unfortunately, I don't know. The obvious place won't work. The CIT Ruins were picked clean years ago. But some of the admins had to live off campus. Ask your friends in the Railroad. I need those login credentials."
    (Liam Binet's dialogue)
  11. Cut contentIcon cut.pngWatcher Initiative testing log Cut contentIcon cut.png
  12. Alana Secord: "Oh, yes. Uhh... Watchers have not shown any additional threats at this time. We're still monitoring increased activity around Fort Independence, though there's no immediate cause for concern. Boston International Airport remains occupied, and Brotherhood presence has been noted at several other locations. And, uhh... Despite a lack of concrete evidence, we have reason to believe that the "Railroad" continues to operate within the Commonwealth. Personally I suspect they're becoming more ambitious, but I can't confirm that at this time. For now, we have assets monitoring all known situations."
    (Alana Secord's dialogue) Note: These lines are a part of Inst303DirectorateOpeningScene.