"Yes, sir. That's what happened. So, can you help me?"

Roc put on his most miserably helpless face. He looked directly into the man's eyes, showing that he had nothing to hide, and begged silently. The man stiffened. He let out a long sigh. Scratching the back of his head, he looked around at shelved walls, considering. The man had just happened to own a grocery store, and had plenty of food in stock, which was just what Roc wanted. Finally the man grabbed a couple of canned goods off a nearby shelf and thrust them into Roc's arms.

"Okay, kid. Here you go. On the house, for your worries." The man turned around and walked back into his office. "Hopefully your momma will be better soon."

A large grin crept up over Roc's boyish face, despite the fact that he still wasn't in the privacy of his ship. "Oh, I'm sure she will," he chirped cheerfully. "Thanks to you, mister." With a last cry of farewell, the young man turned on his heels – cans clutched tightly in his arms – and ran out the store and into the streets.

Roc couldn't help but giggle. The "My Momma's Sick, Mister/Missus" story was the best lure to use to catch unsuspecting folks. In fact, it was so good, it made the whole process pitifully easy. This was the fifth man he had conned this week. Did that idiot honestly believed his "momma" was sick? As if. He didn't even have a family, much less an ill mother. The fact that the people here were so easy to con was part of the reason why he loved the large city of Eden.

Ah, Eden. Located on a space colony that shared its name, Eden was located on the outskirts of Noire, the large cluster of colonies that filled most of the area surrounding Earth. The massive city was divided into two main regions: Upper Eden, and Lower Eden. Upper Eden was rich in raw materials, and many wealthy or aristocratic families resided there. Beautiful parks, exotic beaches, and lush woods and gardens made Upper Eden famous. Roc had been there a couple of times, disguised as a work boy or servant. He had perfected his manipulation skills at a young age, and got most of his money for repairs, food, and shelter from the rich business men living there.

Lower Eden, however, was not as admirable. Factories that produced the goods that made Eden so famous filled the over-crowded streets. The poor and lower-class residents shared towering apartments and houses. Almost everyone was never completely clean. Cheap items on sale could be seen here and there, put up by several citizens eager for an extra dollar or two to pay off their debts. To Roc, though, the idea of buying a stale piece of pastry just to satisfy his hunger was laughable. After all, why bother paying for something that tasted like shit if you could get it for free?

That was the thing about Eden: the people's generosity made living easy for Roc. They're stupidity and kindness helped pay for his many needs. And, if Fate wasn't smiling down on him, he could always steal. Either way, the citizens of both Upper and Lower Eden were kind, if not idiotic, and that was exactly the type of audience Roc needed for his puppet show, as people put it. Those that had enough wits to discover that they had been conned addressed Roc as the "Puppeteer", an alias that Roc rather enjoyed bearing.

With a quick glance around to make sure the coast was clear, Roc sprinted through into a dark shack (the kind that was scary enough to scare most people away) and flung open the back door, which slammed shut behind him as he passed through. He ran into another room. This time, he stopped. The grin still vivid on his face, Roc dumped all the cans onto the ground and punched a few buttons on a keypad on the wall. With a quiet hum, the door slid shut. Roc brushed aside a lock of his thick, blonde hair.

Bending over to pick up his cans, Roc couldn't help but chuckle at the memory of what he had just accomplished. "That poor, stupid bloke," he said as he tucked away the cans into a cabinet. "Oh well. Even if he did realize what had just happened to him, he can't catch me now." When the cabinet door had been shut, Roc gave the wall beside him an affectionate pat. He was really rather fond of the Nycticorax.

The Nycticorax was relatively small but sleek spaceship. It's slender build and small size allowed it to travel swiftly, something which came in handy whenever Roc needed a quick getaway. The dark metal that plated the ship's figure blended it nicely into the shadows. No one knew that the buildings of Lower Eden hid a well-built ship and the city's most notorious con artist.

Roc grabbed a can of pop and plopped down onto the bunker. His eyes trailed to the ceiling of the ship while he sipped his drink unconsciously. Tomorrow he'd go out and grab some more dough. One more day of work should be enough, Roc mused. Then, on the dawn of the next day, him and the Nycticorax would fly.



The young boy started to whistle gaily as he strutted down the busy streets of Lower Eden. Anyone who looked at him would notice his perky, childish look of happiness, and would immediately think, Why, look how happy the nice boy looks!

Roc had his reasons for being so jolly. It was only late afternoon, and already he had managed to nab more than five hundred dollars' worth of gizmos and gadgets. He could already see which ones he would save and use and which ones he would sell for an unreasonable price to unsuspecting prey. Hands tucked in his jean pockets, Roc walked down the street aimlessly as he whistled whatever tune popped into his mind. Perhaps he would retire early. Then he would be able to leave Eden more quickly. Or, he could stay here in the city for a bit longer, and gain more trinkets. Roc nodded to himself and smiled. It was decided: he'd stay for more money. There was no such thing as 'too much money' – at least to him.

So caught up in his happy thinking, however, he wasn't able to see that he was walking into someone until he actually made contact. He was about to fall over when strong arms grabbed hold of him around his wrists and held him steady. "Whoa, whoa!" a voice said. Roc looked up into a pair of brilliant red eyes. The stranger that he had just bumped into wore a smirk which Roc found somewhat irritating. "Watch where you're going, kid."

Roc wrenched himself from the stranger's grip and faced the man with as much dignity as he could muster. "I'm no kid. I'm probably not much younger than you."

The stranger looked Roc up and down. He nodded. "Probably right. But still, I think 'kid' is a good way to describe you," he answered. Roc scowled. The stranger's smirk softened into a warm smile. "Hey, hey. Don't get upset. I can't stand it when people feel insulted at what I say. It makes me what to shake them and give a good kick in the arse, and I don't think you want your arse to be kicked."

My god, is he incredibly cocky, Roc thought to himself. Suddenly he saw his chance to get back at the stranger's insult. The stranger chuckled to himself when he saw that Roc's scowl hadn't disappeared just yet. His messy grayish-blue hair trembled as he shook his head. Roc made a quick plan in his mind. He smiled suddenly. "That's okay, actually. No hard feelings."

The stranger's eyebrow lifted suspiciously. "Really? Well, that's the fastest anyone has ever forgiven me." He patted Roc's shoulder, something which Roc disliked immediately, causing him to hate the stranger even more. "Say, what's your name, kid?"

"It's…" Roc began, but hesitated. Why should he tell him? The stranger seemed so determined to receive an answer, and Roc couldn't refuse him. Not if he wanted his revenge. "It's Puppeteer." Not exactly a lie, Roc thought amusingly. But not exactly the truth, either.

The stranger considered this. "Puppeteer, eh?" he asked. Roc nodded. "Interesting name you got, kid. Sounds familiar, but…" He shrugged. "Alright then. Nice meeting ya, Puppeteer." His smile dissolved back into the smirk as he made a mock salute to Roc. Roc smiled back innocently. He started to walk past the stranger, but as he did his hand quickly shot out and gently yanked a chain out of his pocket. Calmly Roc walked away, his hands in his jeans once more. When he was far enough, he risked a look back. The stranger had left, unaware of his now missing treasure.