[Sonic Death Bot] Chapter 8: What Isn’t To Be Done?


When Noble got back home, the door was unlocked and the Philosophy Student was still-life on the couch with a laptop on her crotch.

‘How did you get in?’

‘Forced the lock.’

‘I didn’t know you could do that.’

‘I can’t…’ She pointed at the wheelchair lady on the other side of the room, throwing an orange up and down. ‘Katya can.’

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Continuing the struggle.’


The Philosophy Student held up her laptop and twisted it around until Noble could see a white-on-black forum site on the screen.

‘See this? The right-wing fuckers are trying to spam a new Native American actress-stroke-film-maker-stroke KOL, you know, to suppress her voice. So we’re making sure there’s some balance.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘It’s harder than you think, actually, Nobes. Most people would just bite back, but the way we do it is, we bite back, claro, but we do it in a way that makes anyone reading it sway to our side.’

‘How do you do that?’

‘Deflect five times then thrust.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘Too long to explain, but the point is…’ Detroit came in from the corridor, carrying his own laptop, and sat down on the floor next to the Philosophy Student. ‘What you got, Dee?’



‘Mutt Damon.’

The Philosophy Student looked at the screen on Detroit’s laptop and shook her head. ‘Fucking leech hands…’

‘Is he being attacked too?’ asked Noble, squinting at the white-on-black text.

‘Ha, Mutt Demonology? No chance.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘We’ve gotta pin him down fast,’ continued Detroit, jabbing the pasty gammon pic on screen, ‘make sure it gets some traction.’

‘What’s he done?’

‘Before, too much to list. Now, whitewashing Chinese history. Pretty apt, right?’

‘Apt? I don’t-…’

‘Sorry, Noble, I’m aware this is probably going way over your head. You’re still old left, vulgar Marxist, base over superstructure kind of guy. Well, things are different now, evolved. We all woke up, realised it was whitey fucking us over, from all fucking directions, but whitey doesn’t have domain over the internet yet, fuck, doesn’t even understand how it operates half the time…so that’s where the war is fought.’

‘Whitey? As in white people?’

‘Come on, brother, you can’t be that far out of the loop?’

Noble ignored Detroit and kept her eyes on the Philosophy Student. ‘I thought the rich and the powerful were the enemy.’

‘Yeah, they are. And so is everything they’ve infected. See, it’s a white system, made by whitey, by white men, and all that shit filters down, creates adherents, dumb fuck foot soldiers. But take away whitey privilege and the system implodes, becomes equalised. That’s when the revolution happens.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Which bit?’

‘You’re white.’

The Philosophy Student flinched, hitting a random key hard on the laptop. ‘Actually, I’m Cuban. Queer Cuban woman to be precise.’

‘But…your skin is white. Isn’t it?’

‘He’s got a point,’ muttered Detroit from the side, glancing at the Philosophy Student.

‘She,’ corrected Noble, to the floor.

‘You are pretty pale.’

The Philosophy Student moved to close her laptop, stopped, then opened it up again. ‘Nobes, you’re not getting it. Obviously, the darker your skin, the more fucked you are, but there are so many forms of slavery and oppression and, unless I’m living in a Spanish-speaking country, I exist somewhere around the third level.’

‘What about the poor?’

‘Diversionary tactic by racists,’ said Detroit, stroking a fingernail.

‘And the poor who are ethnic minorities?’


‘That’s right,’ said the Philosophy Student, patting Detroit on the shoulder and getting a fuck you doing look in return. ‘They’re the ones we’re fighting for the most.’

‘But not if they’re white?’

‘Them? We’re not opposed to it, ideologically. But, to be honest, they don’t really need our help, Nobes, cos they’re white. And whiteness is the ultimate privilege.’

‘Even from within poverty?’

‘Money is irrelevant. The point is they have a power or status that others do not, at their specific level of entry.’

‘Power to do what?’

Detroit folded his arms. ‘Get a loan. Start a small business. Have opinions in public, in the media, online. Glare at a cop. Fuck around. Anything.’

‘Shout at a cop,’ shouted Angela from across the room.

‘Exactly. Probably the kindest thing we can say is they’re brainwashed, or ignorant, but that’s still no excuse. They are where they’ve let themselves be. Unlike minorities, poor, middle-class, even the rich ones, who have been objectively kept down by the system, without respite. They’re the target demo we’ve gotta reach out to, elevate.’

‘I think I need a beer.’

‘Get us one too, will you?’ asked Detroit, tone more of a demand than a request.

Noble walked, scratching her cheek, into the kitchen and returned with four beers, saw that Farrokh and Angela had joined them, so went back and got two more.

After that, she watched the group work, a mix of confused and intrigued. The brunt of it was simple: attack Mutt Damon for cultural appropriation [and older transgressions, if appropriate].

Method: post comments under different usernames, each one accusing Mutt Damon of whitewashing Chinese culture and stealing a role that should’ve gone to either Donnie Yen or the guy from Lost. Or, according to Angela, a talented young Vietnamese actor called Stelli, who she knew from Stanford.

Then the right-wingers started to appear, like shitty dots on a night sky, saying the regressive left were like Nazis, Hollywood was market-driven, the film was a Chinese production, had a Chinese director, and there were other Chinese people in it so what was the problem?

At some point, a fake porn shot of Fan Bing Bing popped up on screen and things went from nuclear to Novaya Zemlya.

Feeling weirdly anxious [and a little aroused], Noble walked outside to get some air and when she walked back in, the Philosophy Student said they were all hungry and was there anywhere decent nearby that served really local indigenous stuff?

Noble nodded and took them across Shing Mun river to Wo Che Estate. There was an open air restaurant that served Cantonese food on plastic table sheets, with locals chatting loudly all around.

The gang took one look and said, nope, this place is dirty as fuck, is there a cooler place nearby, maybe in Sheung Wan, we heard there’s some good fusion cafes there.

‘Sheung Wan is full of ex pats and ABCs pretending to be poor,’ replied Noble, adding a frown just in case. ‘You won’t find what you’re looking for there.’

‘Can’t be worse than this shithole.’

Noble turned to the Philosophy Student, who shrugged and said, ‘it is pretty grubby here.’

‘It’s not grubby, it’s just crowded.’

‘Alternatives, please, Nobes.’

‘Okay. Give me a moment. I need to think.’

‘Too slow.’

‘Right. Okay. There’s an indoor restaurant nearby, we could go there.’

‘Is it any good?’

‘I like it.’

‘Nah, I think it’s better if we try Sheung Wan first. Easier to hear each other speak.’

‘Ah, I see. Are you making a plan?’

‘For dinner?’

‘For action.’

The Philosophy Student looked confused, so Noble cleared her throat, straightened out her Death To Servalan t-shirt and went on.

‘You said we needed to hear each other speak. I thought that meant we were gonna talk about a plan of action, for the struggle ahead.’

Si, of course. We talk strategy every night.’

‘I thought so. I mean, I thought that’s what you would be doing.’ Noble stared at the Cuban’s neck, trying to regulate the increased flow of detramenonic fluid pumping around her circuits and failing. ‘Honestly, I’ve been pretty low the last two years. Very low. Teaching in a back alley, not really any friends to-…to talk to, communicate with.’

‘It’s okay, Noble, we’re here now.’

‘I know, that’s what I wanted to say. Today, watching all your energy, even though I don’t fully understand the whole base behind it, but just watching it, the flow of it, my brain seemed to come back online a little. No, a lot. I don’t know why, but I feel more optimistic now, and…this idea I had before…even when I felt really down, I still thought a lot about things, about the struggle and-…I had this one recurring idea that I think could really make a difference.’


‘It’s not set in stone but the basic framework of it is, we go to Sham Shui Po, that’s a poor area in Hong Kong…actually, it would work anywhere, now that I think about it. We could go to Detroit in the US or Brixton in the UK, and…my plan is…we go there and meet some locals and help them to revitalise their community. The Govt won’t help, so it’s up to us, anarchist style. We go there and get the locals together and get them to tell us their ideas and…then we can raise money online and give it to the locals to start collectives, zine shops maybe, cafes, or whatever they can think of that they wanna do and, maybe secure their own houses, too, so they can’t get gentrified.’

‘Noble, Detroit is a segregated war zone.’


‘Cops going in and picking on our kids, shooting them. Gangs absorbing the rest. No help for my blood, black entrepreneur types, to start a business and keep it running.’

‘It can’t be that bad.’

‘Trust me, it is,’ added Detroit, sitting down between them. ‘I’m from Detroit, as I said, and it’s a fucking mess.’ There was a whirring noise, seemingly from Detroit’s pocket. ‘A whitey-run mess.’

‘But you don’t live there now?’

‘What’s that got to do with anything? I was raised there, I grew up there. I know what it’s like.’

‘Okay. So, from your experience there, you’re saying my plan won’t work?’

‘Man, I’m not slumming your idea, I don’t do that, that kind of pessimism. I’m just telling you how it is. You’re not black, you don’t know. I’m black, I know.’

‘I suppose you’re right. I’ve never been to-…’

‘Detroit is a shithole, engineered that way by whitey, and the only way to really help is to a] kick the crackers out, b] recruit black only cops, local cops, and c] give my people more opportunities, more chances to show their excellence, which is fucking abundant.’

‘That’s my plan, kind of.’

‘And the way we do that is, help black writers and filmmakers and actors and creatives to flourish.’

‘From Detroit?’

‘From wherever. LA, NYC, Philly, Chicago, Atlanta. Latinx too, long as they’re not white face. Doesn’t matter. Point is, get them embedded in the biz, then flip the whole thing on its head.’

‘But aren’t most of those creatives middle class or rich?’

‘Some are, some aren’t, but that’s irrelevant, money’s got nothing to do with it.’

‘It doesn’t?’

‘We’re all in this together, comrade. Rich and poor. LeBron is my brother, Oprah is my sister, that kind of machination. But you’ve gotta keep your brain active, on the right setting. You know what I’m saying?’

Noble shrugged.

Detroit ignored the others and pulled in close to the left wing bot, wrapping his arm tight around her shoulders.

‘Look Noble.’ He paused, squinted at her cheek. ‘Wait, Noble? Is that right?’


‘That’s a real name?’

‘I chose it.’

‘And you identify as female, right?’


Detroit stared at the tips of Noble’s hair, marking off the length against her neck. ‘With this cut?’


‘Okay…a bit Romanian peasant, but whatever. Point is, Noble, helping the poor is our overall aim, for sure. I mean, I was one of them, before, but the truth is we’re not there yet. Nowhere close. You give them all that cash, they won’t know what to do with it. They’ll spend it on shoes and jewellery and shit. That’s not patronising either, it’s just the way it is. They don’t know how to run a business, the system doesn’t want them to, so they don’t know. It’s not their fault, but that don’t make it any less factual. So the only way we got left to help, the only way to get them out of this shit is to give them role models. More minorities on TV and in movies, more politicians, so they can see that on screen, see faces like them and think, man, I could do that too, there’s a way to do it, if I work hard enough. Do you see what I’m saying? We give them the role models and they get the idea in their heads, work hard, and, ten years later, bam, problem solved, no more Luke fucking Skywalker.’

Noble tried to shift out of Detroit’s iron shoulder grip, but it was locked tight. Instead, she pretended to be comfortable and drank some beer.

‘Ten more years and the whole system’s flipped. Guaranteed.’

‘So…your plan is to help the poor by not directly helping them at all?’

‘Shit framing, but it’s the only way, brother. Long term.’


‘Huh? Oh, yeah right. Sister. We cut the racism, lift them up, equalise. Then the revolution. Only fucking way.’

Noble squinted at Detroit, unsure. She ran his words back through her filter and came back with a strange result: ideological content of speech: 82% conservative.

‘You look constipated. You okay?’

‘Sorry, which part of Detroit are you from again?’

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