apsu:nakasi-krt16s cheesey$ fastboot erase boot
ERROR: could not get pipe properties
erasing 'boot'... OKAY
And then, later:
sending 'system' (611886 KB)... ERROR: usb_write failed with status e00002be
FAILED (data transfer failure (No such file or directory))
And again, later still:
getvar:version-bootloader FAILED (remote: (Nv3pBadReceiveLength))
The results for searching for error e00002be on the Internet seemed to result in a lot of people thrashing around being ad-hoc, but the actual problem (at least for me) was embarassingly simple:
I was accidentally using an absolutely ancient version of fastboot.
Using a more recent fastboot solved the problem entirely. Unfortunately fastboot doesn't have a --version option or anything similar but the newer versions have a longer help message.
$ fastboot 2>&1 | wc -l
$ /SDKs/Android/fastboot 2>&1 | wc -l
If in doubt, there's an up-to-date fastboot included as part of the Android SDK for your platform (in the platform-tools directory).