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"No, you are a fool. But you're my favorite one..."
Laurie (to Candi)

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. 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.

In spite of coming out around the same time as Starline Hodge's much more popular Candi, the two have nothing to do with each other, in spite of some remarkable similarities.

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, for the fact that nearly every character from the cast can be easily re-created with their HeroMachine software.

Ciem: Vigilante Centipede
Serving as an origin story, Ciem tells the origins of Candi Levens, an onyro-haired teenage hermit and amateur crimefighter who was born with centipede-themed superpowers and several venomous tentacles (reduced in size to glorified stingers in later versions) that hide inside her arms and legs, called her "centilegs." She is revealed to have a boyfriend, a nearing-retirement superhero named Donte McArthur/Emeraldon. Her sisters reveal to her that her family is more dysfunctional than she originally cared to know.

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 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.

Ciem 2
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?

Ciem 3
By Ciem 3, Candi and Donte are happily married. They aren't as rich as they used to be, but at least things are looking up. Candi is now done with her schooling at Viron University. The couple is planning to move to Kentucky eventually. They finally have two children, Charlie (adopted) and Frank (the result of their indiscretions in Ciem 2.) Candi has taken up a job at a bar since Donte still can't find work. Ciem is popular with the public. Duke Arfaas' death has recently become public knowledge.

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.

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    Tropes found in this trilogy 
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Chest Insignia: The centipedes, the septagons on Emeraldon and Sapphire King's costumes, etc.
  • 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.
  • The Chosen 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."
  • 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.
    • 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.
      Candi: That isn't me!!!
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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'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.
  • Irony: The Flippo surname is derived from "philippio," Greek for "lover of horses." The Flippo triplets are indifferent to horses.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Named After Somebody Famous / Shout-Out: Dolly Malestrom is named after Dolly the Cloned Sheep. Her future son will be named Gunther.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: Nearly everyone has this feeling at least once.
  • 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.
  • Psychic Powers: Candi's "psychic radar," partially the result of her centipede inheritance.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Ploribus Philippine - well, except when reclaiming a city in a fantastic takeover. Otherwise, he can be an invisible jerk.

    Tropes in the first story 

    Tropes in Ciem 2 

    Tropes in Ciem 3