The Ciem Webcomic Series is a dramatic pastiche DSHW Machinomic from Dozerfleet Productions, which specializes in playing around with various comic book and drama tropes whilst simultaneously showing off the storyboard capabilities of mixing Photoshop with The Sims 2. The series features the misadventures of the titular Candice "Candi" Marie "Stevens" Flippo-Levens-McArthur / Ciem, a teenage girl in 2019 who finds out that Phaelite aliens mutated her father while he was a baby, which allows her to have centipede powers. From there, she realizes that she is supposed to help her Big, Screwed-Up Family battle their archnemeses: The genocidal Hebbleskin Gang, made up of Meethlite aliens.
Willing to go along with it, albeit on her own terms, she tries to also get into college and manage her love life. Cue several loved ones being killed left and right, several averted apocalypses, and even a few pseudo-governmental conspiracies to turn her and her sisters into Duke Arfaas' trophies, and the Determined Widow becomes more determined than ever to finally settle down. In the meantime, she struggles with doubt, compromise, fear, lack of self-confidence, guilt, wangst, lust, her boyfriend's health problems, and how to help Botan the Plant-Man get his wish.
The trilogy initially began as an Affectionate Parody of the Spider-Man Trilogy, and was a Spin-Off of an obscure comic called The Battle for Gerosha, before becoming an entity all unto itself. Due to its heavy reliance on The Sims and related Game Mods as rendering tools, several tropes from that game are played with and repurposed rather freely.
Also, in spite the first story's original subtitle, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Dutch horror film series The Human Centipede. In fact, the realization of them being Similarly Named Works actually resulted in Writer Revolt, where the author of Ciem decided to create an Ultimate Universe in novella form to justify renaming the first story "Ciem: Vigilante Centipede." And while that is in Development Hell, it has still gotten some high marks as a promotional tool for UGO.com, for the fact that nearly every character from the cast can be easily re-created with their HeroMachine software.
Ciem: Vigilante Centipede
One afternoon, Candi decides to show up late for a party that her hacker sister Miriam is going to, so she can practice her centi-fu fighting skills and say goodbye to her boyfriend before he goes off to war
on an alien planet. She doesn't detain him as long as she would've liked to. But as soon as he leaves, she ends up in a fight to the death with a Not Brainwashed ex-boyfriend from her grade school years, who is working for the genocidal Hebbleskin Gang. She learns that this Meethlite alien gang, led by Duke Arfaas, wants her and her sisters' heads as trophies, in an effort to fight back against an oracle in which a "Gifted One" of the "li Po" would destroy Arfaas' last remaining monsters, signifying the end of the Hebbleskin Gang.
To make a long story short, her boyfriend becomes a prisoner of war and is rumored dead. Her parental-figure sister Erin is brutally murdered, and Miriam is now about to go into hiding. Candi herself has a Heroic BSoD at hearing the news, and moves to a nearby university town to give her life a fresh start. After a few adventures in crimefighting, it becomes obvious that the police are behaving in an unusual manner, and Meethlite activity in the area is increasing. She eventually meets the charming-but-troubled Denny Levens. This man seems to be all too aware of how messed-up the town of Viron really is, and quickly forms an alliance with Candi.
Arfaas and his gang finally decide that their target, the Gifted Flippo, is hiding somewhere in plain sight. Having taken control of the Dirbine Police, they decide to send a monster to do everyone else's dirty work, but have trouble finding the perfect take. They eventually create a metallic shrew costume, complete with an evil AI that will turn the wearer into a Brainwashed killing machine servant. This leads to them abducting Jeraime Malestrom, and turning him into their cyborg's glorified beating heart.
After failing to help an alien experimentation victim named Jeral Cormier, Candi decides to give Denny a chance at dating her. However, the fact that she does so, and the fact that she attends Viron University, led some townsfolk to assume the worst about her. Old enemies begin haunting Candi as visions when she cannot overcome her newfound bad reputation. This culminates in Denny barely surviving an attempt on his life by one of the very same Meethlites that murdered Erin, which causes Candi to feel little sympathy when that Meethlite
blows himself up dies after losing in battle.
Not sure what else to do, Candi and Denny decide to get married. Big mistake! Candi soon learns that after about a month of being pregnant, she's been effectively Brought Down to Normal enough to be unable to protect her new Muggle husband. And that's when Musaran's killing spree escalates! After several more Musaran-related murders leads to both Denny and Angie (Candi's daughter) dying, Candi decides she's had enough, and takes several levels in badass to become an orange-suited freedom fighter.
A Mexican community starts cheering for the great Ciempies that rescued one of their own from a villain who was fond of children, so the news begins calling her "Ciem." Candi then learns that her original boyfriend Donte might still be alive, and decides that part of her quest to save her hometown must involve saving Donte from impending doom.
This story has been spread around on CD's at some colleges and wherever else it could be spread while the author waited for an opportunity to publish it online in its original format. It is therefore one of the most aggressive comics pushing for mainstream acceptance of the DVD-Storybook Hybrid Webcomic Format. It is also in forum syndication on a few Internet forums, such as The Dozerfleet Forum and Mod The Sims Social.
Ironically, its Comprehensive Gerosha novel series will not be an aggressive push for DSHW Machinomics. However, the original webcomic may receive a remake in the future that replaces the Classic Gerosha continuity with the newly reconstructed tale.
In the sequel, Donte is broke and can't seem to get a job. Candi takes pity on him, and after the couple succumb to their sexual desires a few times, Candi begins questioning why they haven't married yet. Donte also reveals that he promised a friend that if that friend and his wife both died, he'd adopt their son. But a pesky gay couple that's stalking Donte won't let that happen, and the judge will only rule in Candi and Donte's favor if they agree to marry.
But not so fast! While Candi and Donte are figuring out the future of their relationship, Candi's sister Miriam finds herself thrust into a ridiculous Government Conspiracy that involves several close calls with Chinese government agents and terrorists. Donte, now battling cancer, must go to Ploribus for treatment and leave Candi behind to deal with all her life's problems alone. She soon finds herself playing bodyguard to Miriam, while all Hell breaks loose in Dirbine.
Adding to the complications the two sisters face is Miriam's old seafarer friend Simon Aardvonius, who's been turned into the megalomaniacal, termite-lusting Captain Aardwulf by the Hebbleskin Gang as punishment for not keeping up with extortion payments. Capp Aard sets his sights on creating a "Termite Farm Empire" to satisfy his never-ending desire to eat termites. To do that, he reasons he has to steal as many precious jewels as possible and ransom them. Who better for the job than Playful Hacker Miriam "Sniperbadger" Flippo?
Then, the radioactive Ming-Yo gets loose in Dirbine, with a sexy CIA agent battling everything in her path to get to it first. Having problems with her powers, Candi suspects she may be pregnant again. Miriam confirms that she is also pregnant, with twins. With the world stacked against them, the two sisters must band together for safety. But can they rebuild their lives and redeem themselves from their past indiscretions?
Several of Candi's surviving old enemies band together to seek the ultimate vengeance against her. A ninja named Kimiyato "Milp" Hiriyama tries unsuccessfully to frame Candi for child abuse, and then goes One-Winged Angel on Dirbine after Candi is captured by the same ex-government conspirator that originally made life so difficult for Miriam. Having risen through the Meethlite ranks quickly, the insane Lloyd Kolumn traps Candi and several other Supers in a dungeon the Meethlites built along the California coastline. Candi is sentenced to death by beheading, and forced to wait a week and a half to march to her own death. A bracelet she is forced to wear lies to her body and tells her she is pregnant, so her body stops having powers that work consistently. Reluctantly resigned to her fate, she begins assuming a motherly role to her more traumatized cell mates, who are sentenced to be drowned when the facility is to be deliberately flooded on Candi's assigned execution date.
Ploribus, out of youth formula and fearing the Reaper, decides to to nothing. Dolly gets fed up with this, and steals a suit from Ploribus that was in-turn stolen from the Meethlites. She uses it to become The Earwig, and do the jobs that nobody else seems willing to: 1) Rescue Candi and 2) fight Candi's enemies in Candi's absence. It soon becomes obvious to Dolly, however, that her new suit's helmet is slowly driving her insane with its Ax-Crazy proclivities. She resolves to use its power to rescue Candi before she loses her soul to it.
This leads to several violent escapades, and narrow escapes from death by almost every heroic character not in the shelter of Ploribus' underground base. Afterwards, it culminates in an enormous battle, where Candi, Dolly, Charlotte, and Kyle must fight Kimi for the soul of Jeral Cormier / Botan, and the future of Dirbine.
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The centilegs and mask eye pieces of Ciem are painted onto the model via Photoshop in post-production. It was especially obvious in the original, where the author had only Photoshop Elements 1.0 to work with. Before it was canceled, Ciem 2 was being made with Photoshop CS2.
- Aura Vision / Virgin Vision: One of Candi's Informed Abilities in the first story is a (very limited) ability to psychically know, just by looking at the areas around someone's eyes, whether or not they're a virgin. Not pleasant for her when she can see her own experience in the mirror, but she gets used to it.
- The book that's being planned intends to have her use it to actually resolve a minor plot point.
- There were once expanded universe plans for a male character who takes this Up to Eleven. He not only sees different-colored auras based on types of sexual experience (what went where,) but different shapes to those auras to indicate with whom. Absolutely nobody can ever tell him a lie about their sexual past. The more you whore it up, the stronger your aura, the more convicted you are.
- His life gets very miserable very quickly largely because everyone hates a man they cannot lie to about their sexual exploits.
- This was in-turn inspired by the would-be author having to put up with girls in his residence hall constantly exaggerating stories of their past conquests in the lobby with anyone who showed the slightest interest.
- Bio Punk: The series has some elements of this, but avoids being completely true-to-form with this genre.
- Captain Ersatz: Plenty of them, but especially Candi herself. Lampshaded in Ciem 2 when Vienna is cut off from telling Candi that she looks like a really bad version of Spider-Girl.
- Chivalrous Pervert / Comforting the Widow: In the Comprehensive Universe timeline, Jack makes it no secret that he wants to have sex with Candi, even as she is still in mourning over Denny's death. His predatory manipulation of her self-pity ultimately pays off; but she stops him mid-coitus because she's not ready to start a life with him. When she learns that Donte is Not Quite Dead, she immediately heads to Evansville to rescue him. Jack's only response is to agree that it's for the best.
- City Noir: Dirbine has its moments, especially in Ciem 2.
- The illusory happiness aesthetic in the original comes from its bright orange glow on buildings coupled with an amber-biased atmosphere. This, in turn, was just a wholesale Shout-Out to the Spider-Man films that inspired the original Ciem webcomics. With the books' Continuity Reboot, the need for this aesthetic has completely disappeared. Evansville is now free to look more like Gotham City if it wishes to.
- Clear My Name / Designated Victim / My Girl Is Not a Slut: Candi may be hypersexual, but she tries to control it. She makes it her goal to be the good girl who gets by. But her name is Candi! So the Crapsack World she lives in cannot accept that she's a good girl. And she has promiscuous siblings that look just like her, so everyone in the high school who has slept with one of her sisters is convinced they've slept with her, so she is unable to leave high school without everyone assuming she's a slut. When word gets out that her boyfriend is five years her senior, she's mocked and compared to a pedophile.
Candi: "That isn't me!!!"Pete: "We can't take any chances..."
- Even after she's graduated, she is still frequently sexually harassed.
- In the book, she goes off to college, and is still persecuted. One girl vaguely resembling her appearance even steals chemicals to break into Candi's locker, then impersonates her and has sex with the entire football team, purely out of spite. Then puts it on the Internet. Which later inspires one of Steve Mc Laine's ex-best friends to create the Mila Fila character. He then spies on Steve and Miriam with hidden cameras and makes Miriam into Mila Fila. And with Miriam unknowingly making Mila Fila sex tapes, the character looks exactly like Candi. She gets weird looks from almost everyone, as the whole campus now thinks Candi's a porn star. Not even marrying Denny is enough to salvage her reputation.
- And because of the tapes, she can't even get a job as a Sunday school teacher.
- Continuity Reboot: The Comprehensive Gerosha universe, which paints Candi in Broad Strokes and reconstructs the Gerosha universe while freeing it up from damaged and incomplete franchise continuities.
- Grillitan Diner is no longer canon. Volkonir is now its own thing.
- Dysfunctional Family / Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Flippos. Steve McNolan, Tobey Flippo, Alison Ligash, Dwayne Lloyd, and Marissa Hood (all the grandparents) are all dead. Stan and Shalia (the parents) are dead. Candi is raised by her sister Erin, who's a bit legalistic at times. Tom has vanished as of a very young age, but comes back. He is revealed to have devoted his life to selling motorcycles.
- Candi's nephew Kirby is three years older than Candi is! Worse, Candi's half-brother Ploribus is half-alien. If not for the age retardant that Ploribus uses before he meets and falls in love with Nancy and marries her, then Candi wouldn't have a nephew named Lex. Yet, Lex is (by sheer miracle) NOT a nephew OLDER than his aunt.
- As if this didn't create enough problems for Candi, she becomes an aunt again at the age of 19, when her sister Marina has a Shotgun Wedding. (Miriam won't have kids for a while yet, but isn't a virgin like Candi.)
- As for Candi herself, she leaves behind a family just slightly less dysfunctional and screwed up.
- Eternal Sexual Freedom: Strongly subverted, though not entirely inverted. Other than most of the central protagonists, who suffer at the hands of fate for any indiscretions they may commit, most everyone else, especially amongst the villains, can act like a total rabbit; and not a single eyebrow is raised. Unless they've pushed their luck too far.
- Yet, Candi and Donte let their griefs drive them to lust by just before the sequel, and the rest is history.
- Edited for Syndication: Due to potential Unfortunate Implications, whole scenes and subplots in the Dozerfleet Forum version are completely cut out of the Mod The Sims Social version. Also, the 800x483-pixel images in Ciem 2 are shrunk to a 500-pixel-width equivalent, mostly due to bandwidth constraints.
- Irony: The Flippo surname is derived from "philippio," Greek for "lover of horses." The Flippo triplets are indifferent to horses.
- My Own Private "I Do": In the books, this happens twice. The first time, it was because Candi wanted to protect Denny after a hit had been put out on him. The second time, it was because Candi 1)wanted to make it easier for Donte to adopt Charlie and 2)was tired of feeling guilty about the fact that she and Donte couldn't control themselves around each other.
- It alters the story dynamic in Nuclear Crisis significantly from what it was in Ciem 2. No longer is Candi racing to marry Donte because of a pregnancy. She's only planning a ceremony later on (complete with changing her last name from Levens to Mc Arthur) 1) because her Flippo relatives have always wanted her to have one and 2) because it is the ultimate slap in Arfaas' face for Flippos to attend a wedding without fear.
- This in-turn allows for the cause of Candi's power glitches to be a reaction to a flu shot rather than her flu coming clean out of nowhere.
- She can still suspect pregnancy making her vulnerable to the shot; but she eloped shortly after Frank was conceived. Therefore, she is not worried about not being married to Donte even if she doesn't get the second wedding. Also, this slight change allows her storyline to be made a tiny bit simpler while avoiding excessive redundancy with Miriam's Shotgun Wedding subplot.
- Denny never got the benefit of a second wedding with Candi, since his parents at the time feared it would be suicide (Which is what they thought of Candi and Denny even being married at all. They were half-right.)
- Evansville and Boonville Are The Center Of The Universe: Even though one has to wonder why the Meethlites are so obsessed with a geographic location like this with so little strategic value. After all, it's not like it's New York or Chicago or anything.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: And what they can do varies from story to story. But basically, they are most powerful in dreams.
- In Ciem, they can voice disapproval to the living of how they are living. Otherwise, ghosts do nothing.
- In Ciem 2, they can come very close to killing you (or can heal you) in your sleep. They can't foretell the future, but they can warn you about the present. But once you wake up, they become powerless and seemingly nonexistent.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism / Shades of Conflict: Ironically, the more that Candi herself is darkened and the more Arfaas and Musaran get to Kick the Dog, the more idealistic other characters become. Botan the Plant-Man is at one point in Classic Gerosha a straight-up villain. In Comprehensive Gerosha, he's more of a misunderstood Type I Anti-Hero bordering on a Type II. Likewise, Capp Aard becomes a sympathetic screw-up trying to capture Miriam so he can get Arfaas to give him the cure before he loses his mind to his transformation. Originally, he developed a Split Personality that talked like Gollum, and quickly took over.
- Where the Hell is Dirbine?: Supplemental materials strongly suggest it's somewhere around where Real Life Evansville is located.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot / Clothes Make the Maniac: Musaran. And later Dolly as The Earwig. Of course, the AI's way of controlling Jeraime's mind and body inside the Musaran helmet is hard to distinguish from Demonic Possession, especially seeing how it loves killing so much, even after being set free from Arfaas' control.
- Inspired by O'Malley!
- Anyone Can Die
- The Atoner: Nearly all the good characters, for something. Though Candi disproportionately mentally beats herself up over the slightest moral failures.
- Attempted Rape: Don attempts to rape Candi. So does Eddie, who also attempts to rape a skater named Amy. Jeff the Invisible had a perfect opportunity, but tried and failed to guillotine her instead.
- Marina was raped (statutory) several times, and it took her until she got pregnant at 18 to get her life in order.
- Miriam and Phil avoid the need for this, because both were of the age of consent at the time.
- This doesn't make Miriam feel any better when Phil commits suicide.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Most monsters created by the Hebbleskin Gang.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: A history of having been near-raped by Don? Whatever. Candi can handle that. Being tossed into a burning building by Don? Fine. Why not be killed by the man that nearly defiled her once before? But when Don threatens to rape Miriam, Candi snaps.
- Bullet Time
- Centuition: Depicted as a "phantom screaming" in Candi's ears.
- Chest Insignia: The centipedes, the septagons on Emeraldon and Sapphire King's costumes, etc.
- Clairvoyance: Candi's "psychic radar," partially the result of her centipede inheritance.
- Date Rape Averted: Candi dodges Eddie's darts, prevents him from having his way with Amy, AND knocks HIM out! Also, Miriam is rescued from a gangbanger by Teal Hog.
- Deadly Dodging / Gun Kata
- The Dragon: Musaran in the first story. Capp Aard in the second. In the third, Milp starts out as one for Kolumn, before rebelling and stealing the title of Big Bad. At this point, Botan becomes her "dragon." Several lesser dragons, such as Lobe, are also in the third one.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Denny Levens, though it was more like the foot of a giant, metallic shrew. Followed by a suicide bomber. Later, various other characters meet with a Family-Unfriendly Death.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Taken to extremes in Ciem 1, where Candi alternates amongst 8 different hairstyles across 32 chapters (averaging a new style every four.) Granted, a few of these are just dye jobs, but that still makes for about 4 or 5 actual styles. Partially justified in that she's trying to hide from genocidal alien gangsters, and by the fact that the story covers over 2 years'-worth of her life. Also understandable, as it's a DSHW machinomic made with The Sims 2, which practically encourages players to toy around with hairstyles.
- Ciem 2 both plays this straight and subverts it. Candi has only one official hairstyle change; from her Maxis-default mesh, end-of-first-story red hair; to her messier-looking custom mesh hairstyle. This indicates not only her continued loss of innocence between parts 1 and 2, but her frustrations with trying to hide/prevent it.
- Another: Alternate hairstyles she has in her dreams don't really count, her mind just makes her think her hair has changed to that style so she fits in better with whichever setting the dream takes place in.
- Note: The Ciem mask doesn't count as a hairstyle, even though, according to the game engine, it is technically just a baldcap and facepaint, which is then treated with Photoshop to look more actually mask-like.
- Ciem 2 both plays this straight and subverts it. Candi has only one official hairstyle change; from her Maxis-default mesh, end-of-first-story red hair; to her messier-looking custom mesh hairstyle. This indicates not only her continued loss of innocence between parts 1 and 2, but her frustrations with trying to hide/prevent it.
- Flying Brick: Emeraldon and Sapphire King
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The Phaelites, Meethlites, and their monster factories. The result is carriers for conditions whose children may become the future monster armies of either feuding species. However, they have, in a few instances, used nuking and genetic engineering together to create monsters in only one generation.
- The Gifted One: What Erin, Stan, Shalia, (and some of the Meethlites' affiliates) believe Candi is. They could be wrong. Dolly is the actual prophesied destroyer of the Hebbleskin Gang's last legacy, as "liPo" stood for "library position," not "Flippo."
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Jeraime, finally able to distinguish himself from Musaran, is still unable to free himself from Musaran's control. Dolly uses this to rationalize to herself why she needs to eventually destroy the Earwig suit helmet, even though she's powerless without it.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Many of Miriam's lines.
- He/She's Back: Candi obviously gets this treatment. The first time around, she comes back with an actual suit, arsenal, and alias. The second time this happens to her, she seems less concerned with restoring her dignity and more concerned with merely finishing what she started. Donte also has this happen twice. Miriam has it happen, in a cyberspace sort of way, once.
- Large Ham: Too many to list here. But basically anyone who isn't The Stoic or Deadpan Snarker will be a Large Ham instead. Villains often combine this with Monster Misogyny, as it makes them look extra evil.
- Mad Scientist: The Phaelites and the Meethlites, but the Hebbleskin Gang and Insila Murtillo (Ploribus' mother) in particular. The only reason that Centhuens, Centhuen Prototypes, Milthuens, Milthuen Prototypes, AI-possessed homocidal maniacs, werewolves, and other types of monster are even possible. That, and Zeran Holes.
- Morning Sickness: Averted. Apparently, losing one's superpowers (and a general sense of fatigue and loss of courage) is punishment enough.
- Named After Somebody Famous / Shout-Out: Dolly Malestrom is named after Dolly the Cloned Sheep. Her future son will be named Gunther.
- In the Fox animated series Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego??, one of the villains is named Gunnar Maelstrom.
- Oh, Crap!: Nearly everyone has this feeling at least once.
- Off With Her Head: What Arfaas and the Hebbleskin Gang are obsessed with doing to all of Shalia's daughters. He wants her sons to be disemboweled, but Reily is a low priority.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Details under the Trivia page.
- Out, Damned Spot!: Candi can't get over her guilt over Erin's death, Don's death, Denny's death, losing her virginity to Denny instead of Donte, or any number of other things; for many years. Frustration leads her to sometimes alleviate her feelings of shame and responsibility in ways that just make her feel even more guilty.
- Ploribus Philippine is Useless: Well, except when reclaiming a city in a fantastic takeover. Otherwise, he can be an invisible jerk.
- Reflective Eyes: The Ciem mask.
- Roof Hopping: Ciem
- Sex Is Evil: Well, fornication, but not necessarily sex in general. Erin drilled her fear of anything even remotely related to sex into her sisters' heads, until they couldn't take it anymore.
- Knowing Erin couldn't be right about everything and being susceptible to a family curse that supernaturally boosted their sexual appetites, Miriam and Marina quickly find themselves Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.
- Candi tries to play her love and sex life according to the rules (God's, but not necessarily all of Erin's.) However, her fear of Donte never having a child before facing death leads her to consider a compromise, one which she doesn't feel very good about, especially when she discovers she enjoys it a little too much.
- Donte initially argues that he'd rather have her unspoiled so they have no regrets later on. Somehow, both lovers' plans backfire.
- Sexy Discretion Shot / Gaussian Girl: LOTS of them. To name a few: Miriam and Phil. Candi and Denny (both Candi's Erotic Dream and the couple's actual first time. Candi and Donte get a few as well. With Miriam and Steve, their addiction to sex is only alluded to.
- Shotgun Wedding: Marina and Matt, although their affair happens offscreen.
- Same deal with Steve and Miriam.
- Candi and Donte's wedding in the sequel isn't a shotgun wedding in the commonly-understood sense, since Candi doesn't confirm she is pregnant until after she and Donte have adopted Charlie, after the wedding.
- Shout-Out/Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The webcomic's chapters alone are loaded with this.
- Chapter 1: "What Secrets Lie"
- Chapter 5: "Fatal Miscalculations"
- Chapter 6: "No Turning Back"
- Chapter 7: "Not-So Prime Real Estate"
- Chapter 8: "More Needs She the Divine"
- Chapter 12: "Building a Better Centipede Trap"
- Chapter 13: "The Corrupting of the Shrew"
- Chapter 14: "The Seeds of Despair"
- Chapter 15: "A Centipede By Any Other Name"
- Chapter 17: "To Love or Not to Love"
- Chapter 19: "The Wages of Fertility"
- Chapter 21: "Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas"
- Chapter 27: "Ploribus is Coming" - And in Chapter 22, Merle's officers mention he's on the move.
- Chapter 30: "Musaran's Melee"
- Chapter 31: "Cancer Can't Stop Love" - Paraphrase of "Death Cannot Stop Love."
- Split-Personality Takeover: Musaran again, as well as Henry Malestrom/Musaran II. Later happens to Simon Aardvonius/Capp Aard, and to Dolly/Earwig in part three.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Candi and Donte. They get together once; and he becomes a prisoner of war. They get back together, and he develops cancer. They get married; and there is danger at nearly every turn. Then, she finally dies. Yes, they got together, but it wasn't easy.
- Superpower Lottery: Candi, Miriam, and Marina, in spite looking like identical triplets, are actually fraternal. Candi's egg from Shalia was the "lucky one," that accepted the centipede genetics that were infused into Stan's DNA. The result is that the centipede-tainted sperm finally produced a successful Centhuen Prototype that could span more. The other Flippo children all remain normal human beings.
- Thriving Ghost Town: In spite being fairly well-populated, the Dirbine area seems very sparsely physically occupied in areas were denser populations seem more logical.
- This is due to the video game engine only allowing eight controllable players per lot at a time.
- What Have I Done: Candi has several moments of feeling this way. Donte, Denny, and Jeral; also have moments like these.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Pregnancy makes Candi's powers not work right! Therefore, she wouldn't want to be on the pill, even if she believed in it.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds / Emo: Jeral/Botan, especially when being controlled by an AI backvisor.
- Anachronism Stew / Zeerust: The town of Gerosha is slowly catching up culturally with the world around it. Meanwhile, nearly everyone in the year 2021 is still using CRT computer monitors!
- Handwaved in that the Montinel Corporation still manufactures them. Used in the story because:
- Bury Your Gays: Claire Rauscher, who jumps out a window to escape Musaran, and breaks her neck. While she did little harm to anyone in the story, Musaran is nevertheless intent on killing her. For her, Failure Is the Only Option.
- Cheap Costume: Candi goes through a few versions of very cheap Ciem costumes (and even cheaper names!) before inheriting the second half of her fortune from a conveniently-placed dead godfather.
- Clark Kenting: When Candi pretends her last name is Stevens, her haircut and fake glasses are the only things that obscure her identity as Candi Flippo. It doesn't fool Denny.
- Les Collaborateurs: Merle Hourvitz and his police are Hebbleskin Gang pawns.
- Depraved Bisexual: Poison Dart Eddie
- Exploding Computer Monitors Can Do Anything
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Musaran made Jeraime very powerful, but also psychotic. Jeraime was only freed from Musaran's control at the cost of his eyesight. Yet, he is just thankful to be alive and have his wife Dolly back.
- Foe Yay: Kimi's taunting of Candi in chapter 15 of story 1 may seem a bit like Xerxes trying to demoralize Leonidas.
- From a Certain Point of View: What Donte tells Merle to protect Candi's secret identity. How she was able to fool security is another matter.
- Suffice to say, she needs a far more elaborate plot to escape in the book, as no Real Life modern police station would build the city jail to look like a medieval dungeon.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Dolly and Lindsay use dynamite as one.
- Grandpa God: Sort of. Rev. Wilbur Brocklyn is a kindly preacher (who curiously resembles Morgan Freeman slightly) that is known for the occasional psychological smackdown of his own congregation through his bizarre sermons."Would you kill Mary? Then why pick on Viron students? (Indirectly indicting Pete and Nolle for persecuting Candi.)
- While not God, he is an effective mouthpiece.
- Hollywood Nerd: Candi, though she's not actually all that nerdy (that would be Miriam.) Nevertheless, she is hated rather disproportionately for someone with her good looks.
- Kangaroo Court: Taken to ridiculous extremes: Candi, Donte, Dolly, Lindsay, and more are not even given the luxury of a show trial! They are simply thrown into cells buried in dark chambers and marked for eventual death. Merle, however, doesn't think it important to install cameras, in the vague chance that, maybe, someone down there might escape!
- Magical Abortion: Sort of. Angie is born live, but dies a few hours later while battling Kimiyato's evil powers and destroying them. This leads to a very pissed off Kimi, who vows revenge on Candi.
- Marquee Alter Ego: Candi spends most of the story (the first 23 chapters) without her iconic costume. Even after getting it, she only spends five of the remaining chapters in it at any point in time. It gets a little more use in the sequels, where the suit is now able to be worn in pieces instead of all at once.
- Thankfully, her official costume is only completely destroyed in the third story.
- Meaningful Funeral: For Candi and Donte, Denny and Angie's funeral is a matter of closure and a chance to move to the next phase of their lives. It also keeps them from getting insane about each other too soon. They don't seem able to get many others to want to attend a funeral for Candi's fallen family, suggesting that:
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Sort of. Denny meets with a gruesome death, but it's Musaran, not Donte, that kills him.
- Prison Rape: Donte's capture, which doubles as an Alien Abduction.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password on the library computer in which Candi learns where Donte is being kept is "DieLevens." Why would the Meethlites make it so easy?
- Promotion to Parent: Erin Flippo, the oldest of the Flippo sisters.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Some rushed production on later chapters was due to the writer having to make more time for school-related projects. Also, Denny's problems with the debit card thief-turned-suicide bomber Kelsea Linney were based on the author's Real Life problems with a not-quite-as-psychotic hairstylist. (No, not that one!)
- Real Person Cameo: Kelsea Linney (though her face is never shown,) Merdie Dolon, Niles Beldon, Amelia Kayne, Yuri Krennt, Kathy Rittney, Dhalia Lorrice, Laurie Pegol, and Stella Oggles are all based on either Internet forum users or Ferris State students/faculty that the author knew between the years of 2004-2007. Of these, only Laurie Pegol is ever seen in the sequel.
- Replacement Goldfish:
- What Denny tries to be in Candi's life when they both believe Donte is dead. Becomes one more source of regret threatening to drive Candi insane when Denny dies.
- Jack attempts to be this in the book. Candi decides her feelings for Donte are so genuine, that Jack should accept what he got from her as little more than a one night's stand. (And considering her frame of mind at the time, it almost counts as rape.) She does help him find another girl, so he takes her rejection of him surprisingly well.
- Satellite Love Interest: Not deemed canon in-universe, but neither of Candi's husbands gets very much Character Development outside of their relationship with her; so, to the readers/audience at least, Donte and Denny may appear somewhat shallow. Made worse by the fact that if they (especially Donte) weren't forced out of her life, (temporarily or otherwise,) there wouldn't be much of a plot.
- Screaming Birth: Angie is about to be born, right after Candi loses Denny (and her house)!
- Shout-Out / Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of the chapter titles parody/shout out to either the names of various tropes or quotes or titles from films. Many are named after lines from either William Shakespeare or The Bible. Examples have been moved to Trivia.
- Stuffed into the Fridge / A Million Is a Statistic: Musaran's victims are possibly in the hundreds.
- Auto Erotica: Averted and parodied during a dream sequence. Candi wakes up to find herself in the backseat of a Model T Ford...ALONE! And she has no idea how she got there, but is wearing a dress she doesn't recognize. Then she finds her much-alive(?) ex-husband on top of the ship they're on, raving like a complete idiot.Candi: "What the heck are you doing up there?"
- Minion with an F in Evil: Teal Hog. He ends up rescuing Miriam from a thug that was about to rape and possibly kill her, and then sets her loose on the street, completely oblivious to the fact that she was the girl he was sent to capture!
- Redemption Equals Death: In an abstract sense, Miriam's Sniperbadger persona had to be hijacked and destroyed before Miriam could set her life straight. Played with in a particularly cruel manner in which, for her to find redemption for having gotten involved with a porn site, the site's webmaster ends up being the one who dies!
- Take That! / Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Chapter 5 is a gruelingly satirical parody of Titanic (1997).Denny: Wahoo! Call me a viceroy, Jones! It's the end of your world; but I fixed the ship's engine! And I'm STILL not a greasemonkey!
- The Alien Hero Who Won't Do Anything: Ploribus. Played straight at first, but then subverted when he tries to battle Milp's Milliblob form with his Humongous Mecha. And fails to make much difference. (Although, by sheer luck, he did injure her, making it easier for Botan to kill her off.)
- Ax-Crazy: What the AI backvisors are turning Dolly and Henry into, because Cybernetics Will Eat Your Soul. But truth be told, nearly every Villain and Anti-Hero seems to be going through a phase of this.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Dolly, again
- Dark Action Girl: Dolly/Earwig and Kimi/Milp
- The Sixth Ranger: Dolly