Last of the Last here again to fill you in on what’s happened.
So when we struck, we struck quickly.
I took Wraith aside, talked to him, and explained the situation. He actually said he was disappointed in himself for not catching it on his own. I have to admit that I wanted to be disappointed in him too, but the nameless kid’s good at working on people subtly.
We knew Gabe would be the biggest obstacle, which is why we decided to cuff him to his bed while he slept. And also yoink his meat hammers and lock him in his room. Problem solved!
The problem was keeping Magpie, Fang, Mantis, and Phones out of the way. We really didn’t have anything planned, so I couldn’t come up with a very good pretext to send them off on any sort of mission. Eventually I just decided on sending Magpie and Fang off on a food run and hoping for the best with Mantis and Phones.
Phones was easy. He had locked himself up in his room anyway. I tried persuading Mantis before we launched our assault. I explained as simply and directly as I could that Waif-chan was actually the unnamed child and that we were going to pop her ass. He smiled and nodded as if he got what we were saying.
So we went ahead and launched our attack on Kenny and Crimson. I could go into details, but the long and short of it was that we kicked their asses pretty easily.
And then Mantis started kicking ours. It turns out that we overlooked the fact that “hey, we’re going to beat this little girl’s ass” doesn’t translate to “we’re going to beat up two of our own.” So Mantis had no clue what was going on and it’s kind of hard to explain to someone who barely speaks English that no, really, there’s a totally good reason for it while they’re in the middle of going Jackie Chan on you. And Reaper, Wraith and I don’t exactly have a ton of hand-to-hand combat skill.
“I’ll hold him off,” Black said. “Reaper and Wraith have Crimson and Kenny. We can manage between the three of us. Just kill that fuckin’ kid, okay?”
I ran for the room where Waif-chan was staying. If I could just get in there and end it quickly….
But of course it wasn’t that easy, because Gabe is a bear, and the bed and door were wooden. He snapped off the part of the bed he was cuffed to and broke the door off the hinges, just in to see me heading for the Unnamed Child’s room.
“I’ll kill you,” he growled.
“Gabe, listen! She’s the Unnamed Child! She’s a Fear, Gabe! Please, just think for a second—”
Even without the hammers, Gabe hits really hard. A single solid punch to the gut brought me to the ground. It was Phones who saved me. In a fight to the death, Gabe probably would have come out on top. Gabe is slow, but he’s strong and sturdy. But I didn’t need a hard hitter. I needed someone quick, who could distract Gabe long enough without taking a hit.
As Gabe recovered from Phones’ initial blow, Phones looked at me and pointed towards the Unnamed Child’s room. So apparently he knew exactly what was happening the whole time. Phones, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I doubted you.
Waif-chan looked up as I entered. She smiled at me, her facial features just a bit off. The face of an adult on the body of a child, maybe. Though even that’s not quite right. Her mouth was a bit too wide. The eyes a bit big, the nose a bit flat, the teeth just a little too sharp. It was almost as if she had the facial features of a cartoon, but on a real, living being, making the whole appearance a bit surreal.
“You’ve made it this far,” she said, smiling. “What now, though? Do you really think you can kill me?” I pulled a gun on her. She laughed. “Don’t be stupid. You can’t hurt me with that.”
“Oh, no, of course not. I mean, you’re kind of an abstract concept. Maybe you guys can kill each other if you try hard enough, but this? I know I’ve got no chance of killing you with something like a gun. But here’s the thing: I know people. I’ve got contacts in high places. Very high places. There are even some Fears I’ve had some dealings with. One in particular I’ve been a…regular customer of, shall we say? Tall, cloaked, sort of a bookish fellow?”
She frowned. “I don’t see how that helps you.”
I kept the gun leveled. “You’re the Unnamed Child. But really, that’s only a title, isn’t it? You’re abstract, and that gives you power. But you’re also tangible, meaning that you really, in some sense, exist. And that’s your weakness. Because everything that exists is something. Means something. And when one is dealing with something who knows what that something is….” I grinned in satisfaction as her saucer-like eyes widened even further. “That’s right. This gun? This can’t hurt you. But this can.”
“No,” she said, her voice a hoarse whisper.
Fun fact about the word “unnamed.” It doesn’t quite mean the same thing as “nameless.” Names are powerful things. And even the Unnamed child has one.
I spoke it aloud.
Naming her was all it took. All the power went from her. Immediately, I heard the scuffle outside the door cease. She looked at me, no longer a Fear. Just a little girl wearing the wrong face.
I pulled the trigger.