Now updated! After being bored to tears and trying to avoid finishing off a report for Uni (shudders), I ended up taking a look at my old favourite and correcting some age old mistakes in the first couple of chapters. Enjoy!

None of these characters are mine! Every one of them belongs to Final Fantasy 9 and Squaresoft, blah, blah, blah.

The Torment of Tantalus

Chapter 1

The rain was bucketing down as the boy bolted towards the entrance of Lindblum, his head covered by the hood of his cloak. As he finally reached the dark tunnel that was the entrance, he slumped against the wall to rest. It was near midnight, and the rain had kept everyone inside, leaving him completely alone.

Sighing in relief, the boy removed his cloak, revealing a mess of blond hair, and oddly enough, a tail.

As he started to wring out his black cape, he walked over to the end of the tunnel, and peered out into the business district of Lindblum.

The rain showed no signs of stopping, and the boy decided that the tunnel was better than nothing. There was no point in starting his 'debut' with a cold.

Ignoring the dampness of his cape, he laid it in a corner, and curled up on the makeshift blanket.

"Tomorrow, Master Thief Zidane will strike again" he laughed, before falling to sleep.

"Will you wimps hurry it up!" shouted Baku to the younger members of Tantalus, who were trailing behind the large man. "It'll be dark before we get back to Tantalus Headquarters at this rate. AND we still have to get ready for that performance of 'I want to be your Canary' tonight!"

With that, Baku resumed walking towards the Air cab station, leaving Blank, Marcus and Cinna behind.

"E-Easy for h-him to say" Cinna wheezed, holding on to Marcus for support.

"He didn't h-have to climb t-through that s-stupid window an-and get chased b-by th-those stupid guards..."

Blank snorted. "Yeah. But can you imagine Boss doing all that? That would be a sight to see!"

"So w-why does h-he ge-get to c-carry the profits b-back?" wheezed Cinna. "I'm the . . . the one who s-stole them!"

"Why the heck did they stop chasing us anyway?" asked Marcus. "We got away with almost 5000 gil!"

Blank shrugged. "Two guards ran into them and said they had more important matters to deal with. Whatever that means."

Just then, the three of them hear a voice cry out, "Stop! You're under arrest!"

"Oh man! They found us again!" moaned Cinna. But when the three of them whirled round, expecting to have to face a swarm of Lindblum's 'finest', a small blur banged into Cinna, and skidded across the ground. Hesitating only to brush himself down, the boy bolted down the business districts road, and ran into the Air cab station, with three guards of Lindblum Castle in fast pursuit.

Blank, Marcus and Cinna blinked, wondering what had just happened.

"What was that all about?" asked Cinna.

"Did that kid have a tail?" wondered Marcus.

"Who cares?" Blank replied. "I just wanna know what he could he have done to get the palace guards to chase him..."

Baku stamped his foot in annoyance as the air cab took off without him. As much as he trusted the three young members of Tantalus, he was worried about them taking an air cab alone. They were like sons to him.

The man smirked. Not that he'd ever tell THEM that! He'd just say he missed the last cab.

At that moment, Baku felt something brush against the back of his leg. Looking down, he noticed a blonde boy with a large bag slung round his shoulder, crouching behind him, eyes focused on the entrance to the station.

Following his gaze, Baku turned to see three guards run up the steps and look around the room.

"Nuts! He must have gotten on that last cab!" shouted one of the guards.

One of his friends turned to Baku, and the man could feel the kid tense up. "Hey, did a kid with a tail get on that air cab?"

"Uh, Yeah! Some kid dashed on at the last minute" Baku lied, vaguely wondering what the kid had done.

The guards turned to each other. "Let's get over there!" one of them said, and the three of them ran out the entrance once again, just as another air cab pulled in.

When he could no longer see the guards, the boy stood up and faced Baku, his tail waving energetically.

"Thanks mister! I thought I'd never get rid of em.'"

Looking down at the kid, Baku laughed loudly. "HAH, HAH, HAH! No need to thank me! Just one good to deed from one thief to another!"

The boy put his hands on his hips, and twitched his tail in mock annoyance. "What makes you think I'm a thief?"

Baku laughed again. "Come on! The Palace guards don't go chasing pint sized kids for no good reason!"

"Hey! I'm not pint sized! And I'm no kid! I'm seven years and counting!"

Baku could only smile at the boy's annoyance. The tailed boy reminded him of Ruby, the only female member of Tantalus. Not much of a thief, but it stopped the guys from having to play the female leads in plays. She always got annoyed when people said she was 'a cute little girl' instead of a 'young lady'. He was almost scared at what would happen when she hit puberty.

"Fine, fine, whatever you say. The names Baku, leader of Tantalus."

The boy smiled, recognising the name. "Oh. YOU'RE the infamous Baku. I'm Zidane, Master Thief!"

Then, as if deciding he'd stayed in one spot too long, Zidane started to look around, and spotted a window. Baku watched in surprise as the kid jumped onto its ledge with the ease of a cat, and opened up the latch. As the boy focused on the window, Baku noticed a small hammer latched to the boys belt beside a dagger sheath.

"Hey! What are you doing?" shouted Baku.

Zidane looked up. "Those guards might still be out there. So I'll sneak out this way."

Baku frowned, his eyes still on the hammer. Where had he seen that tool before?

"That hammer looks familiar," he asked. "Where did you get it?"

Zidane held back a laugh and smiled cockily. "Oh . . . let's just say it was gift. Nice meeting you!"

And with that, the boy jumped through the window and ran down the street until he was out of Baku's sights. Baku made a mental note to keep an eye out for him again. Tantalus was always looking for new members.

But his train of thought was derailed as he heard a familiar voice wail at him.

"Boss! Boss!"

Whirling round, Baku saw Cinna running towards him, followed by Marcus and Blank.

"Something awful's happened" shouted a distraught Cinna, tears streaming from his glowing eyes.

"What? What is it now?" Baku asked the ten year old.

"Some kid was being chased by the Palace guards, and he slammed right into Cinna" started Blank.

"Yeah, and when he ran off, Cinna's hammer was missing!" finished Marcus.

"That little tailed punk!" squealed Cinna. "When I get my hands on him. . ."

Baku frowned. "Wait a minute. Did you say, "tailed punk?"

"Didn't you see him Boss?" asked Blank. "He ran into this station."

"Yeah" agreed Marcus. "He looked pretty young, and he had blonde hair, and a monkey's tail."

"Really?" Asked Blank. "I thought it was like a cat's."

"Blank, this is neither the time or the place. And it was definitely like a monkey's!"

"A cat's!"

Baku ignored them as he added up what little relevant information his boys had given him, and his eyes widened.

"Zidane." He whispered, before his hands fled towards the pocket he had stashed the 5000 gil Cinna had stolen. Not to his surprise, it was gone.

"That little runt must have taken it when he was hiding" growled Baku. "And no wonder that hammer looked familiar!"

Out in an abandoned alleyway, just by the synthesiser's shop in the Business District, Zidane was throwing the stolen gil in the air repeatedly, catching it in his hand.

"I am just too good!" he laughed.

To be continued . . .