Robert Sykes is a middle-aged man who used to live in the Terran Confederation. He was a Master Chief in the military but joined the Union of Border Worlds to retire after the Kilrathi War ended. He was known to chew tobacco and could almost always be found tearing apart spacecraft and putting the pieces back together into a stronger vessel. His ability to repair and build craft earner him the callsign "Pliers".
Pliers was assigned to the BWS Intrepid when the Black Lance Conspiracy was unfolding in 2673. He became the Chief Technician on that vessel, repairing and upgrading the few starfighters the Border Worlds had to operate. He survived the Confed attack on the vessel in the Masa System when Colonel Christopher Blair, Captain William Eisen and several other comrades defected to the Border Worlds. When they came on board, Pliers was responsible for upgrading their ships and giving them technologies stolen from Confed. Pliers nabbed a couple of Manned Insertion Pods, or MIPs, from Confed for covert space infiltrations. The MIPs came in good use when Winston "Vagabond" Chang and Velina Sosa raided a Confed radar station for secret data on the instigators of the Border Worlds/Confed conflict. When the Intrepid assisted the Kilrathi leader Melek in getting back home after he was attacked by the unknown Confed assailants, he helped Pliers prolong the cloak life on the MIPs.
Before the biological attack on the Telamon System, Colonel Blair captured a number of Dragon heavy fighters, the signature fighter of the Black Lance and an illegally commissioned craft. Pliers was stunned at all of the brand new systems found in the craft, and found that the fighter's power plant supplied unlimited power for the afterburners rather than separate fuel, allowing for greater use of speed. Pliers prepared these fighters for combat and gave Colonel Blair the one Flash-Pak they acquired for battle. Blair used both the Dragon and the Flash-Pak to combat his Black Lance opponents and to destroy the TCS Vesuvius, a supercarrier the Black Lance had acquired. It was not long afterwards that Colonel Blair revealed the existence of the Black Lance to the Confederation's Great Assembly and stopped the ensuing war between the Border Worlds and Confed. This endeavour would not have been successful without Pliers' technological support on the battlefield in the weeks preceding the war declaration.
It is unknown what became of Pliers after the Conspiracy was revealed. Presumably, he is back in retirement.