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Chapter 4

The tank rumbled forward. Now it was a beautiful machine made of an amalgam of anodized aluminum and glowing chrome. White-hot it glowed, and it moved toward Azzie. He dodged out of its way. Due to its melting state, its wheels sagged out of shape and it suddenly had a hard time moving. Nameless hadn't gotten that bit quite right.

The tank fired its cannon. From the cannon's maw came a blobby plastic ball that split upon contact with the sand. Out of it came chiggers and baby mice. All together, they began to dig what looked like a barbecue pit. Azzie was careful not to judge: he didn't know what Nameless had in mind, if anything.

The cannon fired again, but what came out this time was a bunch of notes of the sort musicians write on ruled paper. Azzie could hear Nameless saying, "Cannon, not canon!"

Nameless was having trouble reining in his exuberant imagination. The cannon fired again, and this time it emitted a cascade of multicolored spatter cones, which burbled and gurgled and gave off a noxious fizz.

The tank came into the center of the arena. There was a certain hesitancy about its movements, for it had learned that while Azzie might be negligible as an antagonist, Nameless himself was his own worst enemy. Azzie picked up a stone and prepared to throw it.

And then marching out of Nameless' corner came a host of headless people famous in history: Blackbeard, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, the Headless Horseman, John the Baptist, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Mary Stuart, Medusa, Sir Thomas More, and Maximilien de Robespierre. They gathered in a phalanx, their heads tucked under their left arms in a military manner, right arms holding long lances with silvery tips. Robespierre led them, and he said afterward it was the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life.

Azzie called up his own people, who came armed with gross weapons, but they soon faded away. One of Nameless' few rules was that Azzie was going to have to do this alone.

Then Nameless opened a mouth of dirt and boulders and, towering above Azzie, proceeded to snap and bite at him.

"You're crazy!" Azzie cried.

"No," Nameless said. "Why don't you die?"

"You're a poor creation," Azzie said.

"Are you sure we need this combat? Couldn't you just die and have done with it?"

"Sorry," Azzie muttered.



Chapter 3 | A Farce To Be Reckoned With | Chapter 5







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