Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts. I make no money from this work of fiction.
Author's note: Yes, this is satire. Feedback is appreciated.
Sora swung the keyblade downward as he landed, striking the heartless in front of him squarely in the shoulder. Toes bouncing on the sand, he jumped once more, barely avoiding the swing from heartless directly behind him. Pivoting in the air, he swung his left arm outward. The keyblade beheaded that heartless and clipped another in the side as its momentum continued. Landing fully on his feet, he crouched, prepared to swing the keyblade in a spiral to take out as many enemies as possible. Outnumbered twenty to one, he knew his chances of making it out of this battle were somewhat slim. Entering the arena alone, training session or not, was not a smart idea – and he intended to tell Phil as much.
Just as he prepared to strike, the heartless surrounding him stopped. As one they turned from him and towards the door of the arena, filing out into the foyer. He could hear Phil barking at them to halt their advance, but their footsteps continued. In moments the sound faded. He stepped out into the foyer to find Phil lying on his back spitting profanities after the retreating heartless.
"What's going on?"
"How should I know? Did you use some kind of spell in there?"
"It was the 'no magic' scenario, Phil. You know that."
"Yeah. And if you used magic…."
"It would have ended the scenario, not caused them to troop out."
"Sora!" Goofy's call had both of them running out of the arena foyer and into the sandy area outside. The last heartless disappeared into the vortex leading to Hades' underworld as they jumped down from the stone steps.
"What's going on?" Hercules seemed a bit perturbed, and somewhat lost. Sora shrugged his shoulders. Donald said something, but the most anyone could make out was 'heartless.'
"Try again, Donald."
The duck shouted something, spitting and jumping, pointing at the portal. Though none of them understood him exactly, they all grasped the idea and proceeded to Hades' underworld.
Once in the realm of the dead, the group stared at all of the heartless holding picket signs. As they grabbed the signs, they formed several queues each heading into different portals. Panic was yelling loudly, telling them to protest in each of the worlds. Pain stood off to the side, shaking his head.
"What goes on here?!" Hercules' demand silenced Panic's shouting for merely a moment before the minion ignored him and continued giving instructions to the heartless. Pain walked over to the group, holding his hands out in front of him when Donald brandished his wand.
"Hold on, now. You want answers, I can give 'em." Sora placed his hand on Donald's shoulder. The duck lowered his wand as Phil bustled to the front of their group.
"Well, start talkin'!"
Pain raised an eyebrow. He appeared to be considering the option of walking away, but shrugged, proceeding to explain the situation. "Panic heard about this legislation being considered back in 2011 in the United States Congress. It was called the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act." Sora nodded while Phil crossed his arms in irritation. "Well, these two bills before Congress would have had some possibly extremely detrimental – and worldwide – effects on the Internet. That's a network that some use to access information."
"Oh! So that's how Cid knows so much!" Sora's exclamation was met with silence as Phil and Pain both slowly blinked at his revelation. Phil turned back to Pain.
Pain cleared his throat. "Yeah. Anyway, it's also used to distribute creative works. Sometimes these works are electronic and created solely for the Internet. Sometimes, though, they're cheap rip-offs of physical works. The legislation was intended to protect movies, games, songs, books – things that are being illegally distributed via various Internet sources.
"So, this legislation was drafted, but the wording was too broad, and allowed for far too much regulation. Numerous online sites that didn't house any type of creative work protested, and there was a blackout across the Internet for a day. The laws were defeated."
"So what's the fuss about then?"
"Since then," Pain continued, "people have been jumping – like our dear Panic here – at any mention of SOPA. All anyone has to do to incite mayhem and hysteria is say that acronym, and entire communities begin to panic. They don't think, they simply react."
"All right." Sora stepped up beside Phil. "So tell us if this is some kind of enemy we should be worried about, Pain."
"Right now? I'd say it's doing you a favor. The heartless aren't fighting you, and you could probably head to the End of the World and take on Ansem if you chose."
Goofy nodded, raising his shield in assent to the idea. Hercules stepped forward and placed a hand on Goofy's arm. The speaking dog looked up at the Greek warrior. Seeing him shake his head he lowered his arm. "But why not?"
"What would be the point in saving a world if that world is full of people who are in fear of something that doesn't exist? What would be the point in having people be free from the darkness if they're only going to be consumed by their own panic and fear? The heartless would still win. They're simply fighting the battle differently."
"Okay, Pain, there's something I don't understand here." Phil drew their attention back to their 'teacher.' "If this law was defeated, why do people keep bringing it up? There has to be something to prompt this."
"Well, also since 2011, there has been a secret treaty under negotiation. It's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the only documents currently available on what's being discussed are from 2011. Three years later, no one knows anything about it, really. This would be a worldwide treaty – well, it would for certain nations involved in its negotiation.
"The United States' negotiators at those discussions are trying to implement sections of SOPA – if the 2011 draft that was leaked is any indication. Unfortunately, there is nothing more recent to determine what changes have been made in the course of negotiations. And it is a sad commentary that the lack of information on this treaty extends even into mass media."
"So that's not what's causing the uproar, then?"
"No. In 2013, the US department of commerce wrote up a paper called the 'Copyright Green Paper' which detailed what they felt were issues with copyright policy. Simply by including the word 'copyright' they immediately engendered a reaction from those prone to panic. Messages went out overnight on fan sites around the internet, posted and reposted by people who had no knowledge of what the issue actually was. The message was simple and it was repeated, despite the fact that it was patently false. 'SOPA is back,' it said – large and loud – and no amount of telling people that they had it wrong and were simply panicking for no reason would reach them."
"You mean to tell me," Phil began, "that something that wasn't even legislation caused a great many people to react with such fervor without even reading the paper?"
"Yes." Pain crossed his arms. "That's not why they're up in arms right now though."
"Speak of it, then," Hercules demanded.
"Keep your sandals on, toga boy. There was a hearing in the United States Congress on policies currently in effect under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The problem as the copyright holders see it is that they have to submit the same takedown notices repeatedly. The procedure, they argued, should be easier and should not place so much burden on them that not only is their livelihood detrimentally affected by the presence of the material to begin with, but that they are no longer able to produce new material for the effort having to be put into eliminating the theft of their current material. They argue that the procedure should place more effort on the part of those running the sites."
"Okay, so let me see if I understand this. Some people steal. They post up the things they steal for other people to steal. So, there's legislation considered – and defeated – which would have affected sites that didn't have stolen content on them." Pain nodded. "So, in accordance with how US Congressional committees are run, a paper was researched and drafted, and a hearing has been held – and this has caused such blind panic?"
"And in the time we've been standing here talking about it, Panic has sent thousands of heartless to each world to continue scaring the populace!" Sora's response to Phil's assessment of the situation had them all running towards Panic. Pain smiled. His task had been simply to delay them. It had not mattered how he accomplished it. No matter how much effort they put in to defeating the heartless now, the message had been spread. Their defeat might not be immediate, but it would be sound. Never again would they be able to enter a world without at least some of the populace supporting the heartless. His shadowy allies would no longer have to scare the people of each world by taking them over, only by spreading a message of panic. He threw his head back and laughed.
Sora had jumped through the portal, landing directly on top of a heartless carrying a picket sign when he emerged. The heartless immediately melted into the ground in an attempt to get away. The hero's attention, however, was instead on the cards who were slapping at him, calling him names. Two of them hauled him up, and shouts of 'take him to the queen' greeted his ears.
"Wonderland. Lovely," he muttered. He heard Goofy and Donald emerge from the portal behind him just as he was hauled through a hedge leading to the palace. Their shouts of his name were followed by a bellowed attack order from Hercules. Sora sighed.
Within moments he found himself in front of the Queen of Hearts' judicial stand, just as Alice had. She had not made her way to the hearing room yet, but the Mad Hatter and the March Hare were present. He watched the hare console the hatter as the latter wailed.
"I know it's sad, but at least you won't be alone anymore."
"But I … I li-liked being the on… only one who was quite mad!" The declaration was made with hiccupping sobs interspersed, and Sora could not help the sympathy he felt for the insane man.
"We'll have guests at tea! Think about it – there will be more people to sing to on their unbirthday." The hare's attempt to console the hatter only produced more sobs. Sora considered the possibility that he could have an ally in the hatter. The doors slamming open and the rabbit's trumpet announcing the queen's entrance, however, halted any action he could have taken.
"Now then. I've seen you in my court before, haven't I?" Sora had been about to nod, but she waved him off. "No matter. You are guilty of treason for attacking a servant of the Queen in his duty informing My subjects about the impending danger of SOPA." She paused. Sora made no attempt to speak, knowing that this was just for dramatic effect before she announced his sentence. As expected, the declaration of his impending death was met with cheers. Two of the queen's guards hauled Sora from the chamber. He did not bother to try drawing his keyblade – these people were not his enemies. They honestly felt threatened. Panic's plan had certainly worked in Wonderland.
They dragged him to the executioner's stand, Sora letting his heels dig into the ground as they pulled him along. He heard the rustling in the bushes and hoped that was the cavalry come to help free him peaceably. Doubt entered his mind, however, as he was hauled to stand on his feet and marched up the steps to the dais where the beheading block rested. He felt the sweat run down the back of his neck as he quickly considered his options. He would have no choice – he would have to draw his keyblade. Just as he opened his hand to do so, Donald's unintelligible quacking echoed through the air.
"We're comin', Sora!" Goofy's yell was followed by a loud thud. The sound of the rustling leaves of the hedge as Goofy fell through them had Sora shaking his head. He drew the keyblade as Hercules emerged. The Greek's sheer size was enough to startle the cards into loosening their hold on him. Taking advantage of the moment, Sora jumped from the dais and ran to help Goofy up.
"C'mon, guys! Wonderland's a loss! Panic's plan worked, and they've all succumbed to the hysteria of this false scare. We've got to get to the next world before they all fall like dominos!" Running back to where he knew the portal to be, Sora led the group in retreat. He hoped this never got back to Kairi or Riku. Kairi would never respect him if she found out about this flight. And Riku… Sora cringed at the mere thought of the older boy learning of this defeat.
They jumped through the portal, the cards stopping just short of the circle of light in their headlong chase. "Close it up!" The queen's voice carried over the tops of their heads. "I don't want them coming back here!"
At the End of the World, Ansem smiled. The viewing portals which allowed him to witness the events in each world showed similar situations across them all. A few dissenters called for reason – why should they be concerned at all about legislation which was in a country they had never heard of, several asked. Why would such legislation affect them at all, since they did nothing which could be considered illegal, others questioned. These few voices did not matter in his grand scheme. They were drowned out by the cacophony he had used Panic to create.
His malicious grin spread wider as he read about the various arguments made before the US Congress regarding the DMCA. That hearing had given him the idea to capitalize on this latest round of thoughtless hysteria. All he would have to do to stop these 'heroes' would be to incite a SOPA riot in any world they entered. If anything was ever discussed that could possibly affect the residents of any world, he could simply repeat the process. It had proven effective in the world where the legislation had failed. He had been watching.
Every time something that might possibly actually affect them would come up, these people would start screaming about defeated legislation rather than discussing the actual issue. Since they did so, they would not know about anything that could endanger their 'rights' until it was far too late to do anything about it.
Maniacal laughter echoed through the chamber. He had won. Ansem had defeated the light. All of the worlds were his.