The Bubble Maker is a superhero/supervillain story by Noddite.
Dr. Vu was one of SimNation's unsung mayors who labored tirelessly to provide for his people's every wish. When he challenged the need for superheroes, they destroyed his city to keep him in line.
For years, he waited in the shadows as his closest allies lulled SimNation into complacency. Vu has now resurfaced, ready to wreak havoc on the country that betrayed him.
Dr. Vu's FactionEdit
Vu's faction is composed of sims who fled SimNation to found their own country, Freeland.
- JD: Narrator. Witch, former regional governor of SimNation, former mayor of SimCity. True name, age, gender, appearance, undisclosed. Implied player character from SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimPark, SimTower, Yoot Tower, SimTown, SimGolf, Sim Theme Park, SimCity 3000, SimCity 4, SimCity DS. Base commander in SimCopter, owns cars from Streets of SimCity. All skills maxed.
- Dr. Vu: Implied player character from SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimCopter, SimFarm, SimIsle. Villainous mission giver in SimCity 4 and later games. All skills maxed.
- Igami: Grim Reaper. Male. Infamous for letting unlucky sims continue living and for his unparalleled musical skills. Currently tracking down his son.
- Captain Hero: Male. Blond hair, neon pink outfit. Licenses his name to aspiring heroes. Partially responsible for the 349 Arco incident. Appeared during disasters in SimCity 2000.
- MaxisMan: Male. Black and yellow outfit. The most aggressive hero pursuing Dr. Vu.
- Easton: Also stylized as EAston. Female. Identifiable by her blue-and-white riot armor. A former police officer specializing in riot suppression.
- Julie McSim:
- Kaishu Tachibana:
- Ayako Tachibana:
- David Bennett:
- Jessica Knight:
- Jana Defacto: Medieval-era figure. Patron saint of superheroes, mayors, and fugitives. Her name and initials have become a placeholder for mayors wishing to remain anonymous.
The world's superheroes blame Dr. Vu for the supposed abduction of SimNation's top mayor. Self-serving fools, all of them. No matter what the courts and tabloids say, there was no foul play behind my disappearance.
For decades, I was a rising star, the one most likely to become the next leader of SimNation. Then, one day, I vanished into thin air, leaving behind an empty space in the political scene as well as where my residence stood. Only Dr. Vu had the resources to pull off something so bold, and since I'd played an active part in foiling his plans, the superhero community feared that I was taken hostage.
It was all an act. I hadn't been loyal to the country since the incident at 349 Arco, when we were left to burn while Captain Hero took all the credit for stopping the alien machine. The elaborate revenge plot we cooked up in response required my rise to power in SimNation's political machine so I could gain access to top-secret materials.
Make no mistake: I am not one of Dr. Vu's lackeys. We go back to the days of the venerable Dr. Wright's graduate courses of city management. I was there with him when he turned an empty square of land into a megalopolis in seven years, even as hundreds of our fellow students went mad from the realities of running a city. He was there with me when we tracked down the criminals causing disasters in my town. We comforted Igami when his duties as a grim reaper prevented him from living his dream.
For our accomplishments, superheroes saw us as nothing more than tools to build their own reputations. We kept order in other cities using what little resources we had while they lounged around in their manors, waiting for the juiciest opportunities to steal the spotlight. To make a few extra simoleons and stay solvent, we had to transport entitled VIPs who complained if the dying sim next to them so much as breathed.
The superheroes? They get paid extortionary fees for their deployment on top of regular salaries.
No one came to Vu's rescue when he was abducted by aliens; he was forced to fight his way through waves of enemies just to turn the UFO around and land it back at base. Captain Hero only showed up to try to shoot him down, ignoring all communications that the ship was under friendly control. The egotistical supersim even had the nerve to chew Vu out afterwards for not needing his help; Vu was a mere mortal and should have deferred to his better's judgment.
The aliens, in a bid for revenge against the sim who'd resisted a different set of his betters, deployed a giant clawed machine against us at 349 Arco, the planned launch pad for an exodus into space. Vu and I fought back in our aircraft; he sortied in an Apache to hold it off while I prepped an F-15B with the necessary anti-armor weapons to destroy it.
We managed to kill the monster with a lucky bunker buster hit, but we weren't out of the woods yet. Captain Hero chose that moment to appear as our enemy. We'd robbed him of the glory he believed he deserved, and for that unforgivable crime, we had to die. As I banked my Eagle to return to base, he flashed past in a pink blur and took out my right wing. I hit the afterburners to stabilize the fighter, only to realize at the last second that I was pointed straight at a launch arco.
Launch arcos have room for sixty-five thousand sims. They are also powered by nuclear reactors. Three hundred forty-nine of them, clustered as tightly as they were, was a disaster waiting to happen. The nuke that went off in the one I hit caused a chain of explosions up and down the line.
Nearly twenty-three million sims lost their lives that day, all in the name of revenge.
All in the name of teaching us to obey our "betters."
Vu and I survived thanks to Igami's help. Normally, when I got myself killed, Igami brought me back to life for the promise of future comedy. There was no humor that time, but he resurrected me because Captain Hero's crime had been so grave that he couldn't allow it to go unavenged. Vu was unhurt and had hundreds of death flowers stockpiled for incidents such as these, but we burned through them all to save as many of the residents as we could.
The city was left a haunted, radioactive wasteland. Vu's reputation was shot and he could never again be a mayor in SimNation. He was a target of the aliens, which marked him as a liability for any town he served.
No one could be found to contradict Captain Hero's account of the battle. Vu and I were supposed to be dead. The few sims we'd resurrected with the death flowers had to be taken to safety in case meddling superheroes decided to silence them. To this day, the official line is that Captain Hero single-handedly defeated the alien vehicle, only to have it self-destruct in the greatest act of spite in history.
The sims we saved became the core of Vu's followers. They knew the truth behind the incident and remained loyal to the man who'd done everything to give them a second chance, up to and including bargaining with a grim reaper.
I was weak and couldn't bear to take the blame for the explosions I'd caused. Instead, I chose to mask my shame any way I could find; being a modern witch with options ranging from glamours to plastic surgery, that wasn't much of an accomplishment. After so many years, the only ones who still remember my true appearance are Vu and Igami, and even they have begun to forget.
I put the disguises to good use by returning to SimNation's political system to infiltrate it. While I'd already served as a mayor and built a megalopolis, no one realized that I was the pilot of the Eagle involved in the 349 Arco disaster, nor did they know that I was working as Vu's base commander after I resigned my post. We needed to build a place to settle our sims and I was the one most qualified to gather the necessary research. From a park ranger to a regional governor, I did it all in the name of improving our lives, hating the jobs and myself all the while.
But neither Vu nor I could let go of our need for revenge against the world of superheroes. While Vu worked on traditional supervillain plots to keep the likes of Captain Hero, MaxisMan, and legions of others occupied, I set about undermining their authority by creating utopian cities free from want. Little by little, we eroded their influence until they were little more than glorified LEOs.
Yet all things had to come to an end. At last, it was time to cast away my disguise.
A pizza costs forty. Chinese food is thirty. Twenty-five years ago, a bowl of gumbo would have set you back eighteen.
An empire was founded on just twelve simoleons.
It's not very difficult if you have the right catalogs and skills. The Stacks may look like an ordinary decorative item, but they're sold at a steep discount. Buy one for §12, wait until after midnight, and flip it for §168. Then you take the §156 in profit to buy thirteen and repeat the cycle. Soon enough, your bank account will be overflowing with simoleons.
There are plenty of other methods of making money. If you're fast enough on the trigger and still have the old catalog with modded instruments, you can buy a Sky Scorcher Fireworks Kit for §90 and make tons of money with each rocket. Simply launch one, wait for it to come down, grab it with the object mover, and sell it for §2,300.
Digging requires no investment but a shovel. Assuming you're not like me and don't regularly hit water pipes where they can't possibly exist, like a newly-raised island, you'll earn at least §25 per rock you unearth. If you're very, very lucky, you'll find treasure chests that can be sold for §5,000. Unfortunately, you can't dig if the ground's frozen, so it pays to have another source of income on hand.
All you need to fish is a rod or a harpoon and a large enough body of water. A small pond from the catalogs' Build Mode can contain an infinite number of old boots and golden trout. Don't ask me how, but I've even caught fish from swimming pools with completely clear water. Mounting your catches adds about a third to their value, but you need a section of unused wall. For a mere §70 and some skill, you can make more in a day than most executives are paid in weeks. Still, keep in mind that lakes freeze in the winter.
Beachcombing is not very lucrative and more likely to end with you getting pinched by crabs, but it's still good if you want to get into the souvenir trade. A bowl of colored sea glass, clamshell, conch shell, or a starfish are each worth §430. Gift shops on Felicity and Wanmami sell to unsuspecting tourists at even higher markups, but they buy their product for much less.
Rummaging through those infinite capacity trash cans at the curb is a last resort. It's a good way to catch a disease and you'll get dirty fast. If your only other option is starvation, though, a few extra simoleons may make all the difference and you have nothing to lose by that point.
Then we get into more capital-intensive methods. The new crafting stations require huge amounts of investment before you can even start producing something as simple as toy bricks. An easel costs a fortune at §250, to say nothing of the skill required to break even. Spinning wheels that produce golden thread from thin air are no longer available unless you still have the old catalogs. And seriously, who needs a hundred garden gnomes?
Some of the career rewards are licenses to print money—real money, not like the counterfeiter's favorite, Genuine Buck's printing machine. A kid can make §60 an hour by playing pinball or mumbling into a litigator podium. The downside is the need for someone to reach a career level high enough to acquire the equipment in the first place.
One last method of making money legitimately without a job involves the catalogs themselves. Definitely not for everyone: you'll need to make a lot of connections to find that one individual who can give you a token for permanent discounts whenever you buy furniture. I acquired several from lobbyists, but they obviously wanted to curry favor. Anyway, if you have the discount, buy objects and immediately sell them off to pocket the difference. That should be everything I have to say about getting money.
The plan for escaping SimNation and founding a place of my own was to first launder as many assets to Vu and our allies as possible. It would have been suspicious to simply transfer huge sums of cash to our offshore accounts, so I chose to use semi-legitimate transactions as cover.
There's a famous resort on Felicity Island that caters to the extremely wealthy. It also happens to be one of our syndicate's properties through the president and his wife. Vu must have done them a major favor by repatriating the other adult survivors, because I've never seen anyone else so eager to ally with us. Anyway, as it's mostly service industries, it's a good venue for storing my money without anyone noticing.
The folks there did a lot of favors for me by converting much of my fortune into engraved metal plates, casino chips, wooden tags, and pachinko balls, which I promptly stored in my catalogs' inventory. There was nothing there that should have aroused suspicion because I collect them as a hobby anyway.
When the gambling halls, casinos, and pachinko parlors ran out of tokens, I moved on to expensive decorations. The fountain of youth from Hidden Springs carved out nearly half a million of my remaining funds by itself, but it still wasn't enough. A Staff of Tuzu was a nice addition to my survival kit, even if I had little use for its magic. On Felicity, a top-quality treasure chest is worth more than an entire hoard, as I learned when someone stole one of mine and left behind all the gold and gems. Eventually, I managed to deplete my savings, keeping only a dozen simoleons on hand.
The next stage was to divert attention by becoming the center of attention. Counterintuitive, I know, which was exactly why it worked. I made some public statements against Vu, he countered with threats against my life, and I was assigned a security detail to deal with external threats. They never suspected their ward's true nature.
The Expello Simae spell banishes sims for a while. There is, however, an even more powerful solution if you hack the catalogs' console: Moveobjects. The same technology that lets us move heavy objects like pianos and refrigerators without breaking a sweat can be used against living beings. I removed the guards from the residence, placed the mansion into the catalogs' lot bin, and got out of the city by performing a series of teleports.
Superheroes were called in to investigate my disappearance. Just as planned, they all concluded that I was abducted by Vu. SimNation auctioned a contract to rescue me, leading to a bidding war and schisms among their community. Everyone wanted to be the hero to undertake the most important mission in the nation's history, to be immortalized as a legend. Instead, their ambitions were laid bare for the world to see.
By that time, I was safely in friendly territory. After fleeing my city, I'd rendezvoused with Vu's agents, who beamed me up to their flying saucer. They flew me most of the way before we reached another RV point over the ocean, at which point I parachuted from the spacecraft and was retrieved by a most peculiar submarine. The metal whale set sail to a point a few klicks off the shore of our new nation and surfaced; I swam the rest of the way and reached dry land just before midnight.
My first action once ashore was to stretch my cash. While waiting for the date to roll over, I invested my remaining simoleons on a unit of The Stacks. I used the money to create a temporary section of wall and a small pond while reinvesting the remainder in more Stacks units. A few mounted boots and fish provided the funds I needed.
Just as quickly as the wall and pond had appeared, they were sold off. It was time to move on.
Seventy-two hours had passed since I escaped from SimNation.
The first two days were the most critical; they were the timeframe in which most cases were resolved. To LEOs and superheroes, every second I was not found lowered the odds that I was still alive. A high-profile politician dying on their shift was a nightmare scenario, one that exposed weaknesses and ended careers.
But my trail hadn't grown sufficiently cold to allow me to rejoin society. Municipal investigators would be relieved by people from the state, who would only last as long as it took for suits from the national bureaus to arrive and take over. Independently, superheroes were trying to find me and would never give up, whether or not they had the necessary paperwork to work on my case. A few hundred disasters were a small price to pay as long as they recovered the rising star of the SimNation political machine.
The last twenty-four hours had been spent with Igami. He was the only member of our group who could safely meet with me and not blow my cover. Even if he was spotted, no one was going to question why a grim reaper was taking long walks on a windy beach. If my presence was discovered, it could be easily played off that he was allowing me to fulfill my last wishes before I departed for the afterlife.
As the day came to a close, we knocked back a bottle of honey nectar as we discussed our findings. "I ran her through the registries," I told him. "You've been barking up the wrong tree. Olive DeMise, Olive Mortis, Olive Thanasia, Olive Specter—those were her married names. You wanted Olive Muenda."
"Really?" asked Igami. A bony hand slapped his skull. "Don't I feel like an idiot. Where are they?"
"A little place in the desert called Strangetown," I answered. "It's gonna be a week, minimum, before we can head there."
"I'll be fine by myself," he said as he poured himself another drink.
I shook my head. "Wasn't referring to your business. You've heard Bella Goth of Pleasantview's disappeared?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah. She vanished right around the time… that spaceship crashed." He realized what was next. "She's there, isn't she?"
"A woman matching her description was sighted wandering the streets of Strangetown," I said. "We have no idea whether she was abducted or hijacked the ship and disappeared of her own accord."
"You're betting the latter," he predicted. Correctly too, I must add.
"I've seen her in action. Meanwhile, Pleasantview's become a powder keg; some Casanova-wannabe's seducing the town's women. Well, it's the little things that kill you, and as it turns out, Pleasantview's got a lot of skeletons in its closet. An affair here exposes a crime ring there implicates a politician somewhere. Anyway, we need to bring Bella back to Pleasantview. Her disappearance stuck the blasting caps in the town. Her return would be hitting the switch."
The buzz of helicopters overhead grew louder and more stationary. My "rescuers" had zeroed in on my location and were intent on retrieving me, even if they had to fight the Grim Reaper himself. In a few minutes, the operators onboard would fast-rope down to sweep and clear the structure.
"Let me handle this," Igami offered. He produced a tablet and tapped the screen a few times. One by one, the choppers fell from the air and crashed around our building.
"That still works?" I asked.
It was an exploit Igami had discovered while Vu and I were flying missions for SimNation: a mayor could use the magnifying glass tool to shoot down aircraft. Unfortunately for us, he'd discovered that fact when he tried to view a stretch of road I was hovering over in a Schweizer 300.
"Yes," he stated after a pause. "These were drones. Crash signatures match flying platforms used by MaxisMan."
Lovely. MaxisMan was the superhero based in Maxis Manor. He'd made a name for himself destroying one of our VuBots. His brief capture and false imprisonment of Dr. Vu at his crib hadn't hurt his public renown, either, even after Vu made a fool of him by escaping and blowing up his home.
I sighed in resignation. "I'll take care of him myself." MaxisMan couldn't use full force against me without failing his mission. If I played my cards right, the world would believe that I was brainwashed like most of Vu's other henchmen. "Prep the next rally point."
Grabbing my weapons and activating my helmet's voice scrambler, I stepped out of the hideout. Standing in the landing zone was the young upstart who thought he could take me. Blond, buff, and flamboyant like the rest of his kind, it was a wonder why their enemies hadn't wiped them out.
"Y-Your Honor!" the normally eloquent superhero managed to stammer out. "We thought—SimNation thought you were dead!"
A foolish admission. So the heroes' surveillance network had spotted Igami with me. Overlaying the intervals within the last twenty-four hours when I could be seen in his company with data on the locations of their assets narrowed down the identities of their supporters. Didn't they train these people anymore?
I simply drew a laser pistol and sent a green beam into his center of mass. The shot wasn't enough to kill him, of course: superheroes were made of much sturdier stuff than that. It was meant to end the conversation; if I hadn't acted, he would've talked all day. Maybe there was a superhero regulation that said they had to make those long-winded speeches on justice and peace and the greater good. All I knew was that the patron saint of superheroism, competent governance, and anonymity was silent on the issue.
"Enough talk, cur," I growled, my voice heavily distorted and animalistic as I advanced upon him with a metal pipe. The words were chosen because my public persona never would have uttered them. Vu might have, and with his mind control technology, the theory that I was under his control would gain traction after this.
"Curse you, Vu," MaxisMan hissed between clenched teeth. The bolt had hit him hard enough to drive him to a knee. He was, as expected of one who'd taken a serious wound, clutching his chest with one hand while the other was on the ground, propping him up like a squire about to be knighted.
"Die." I swung the pipe down on his head, only for him to block it with a forearm. Foolish boy that he was, MaxisMan had already forgotten about the gun in my other hand. He got another green bolt to the chest for that.
The pipe and pistol went back into storage as MaxisMan collapsed. In comics and movies, this was the part where the villain gloated at the fallen hero, only for the situation to be felled by a sudden reversal.
This was reality.
Whatever MaxisMan was planning ended when I kicked him in the face. As he rolled over, I followed up with a stomp to the head, then jumped onto his chest to crush his ribcage and finished with an elbow drop to the throat. A normal sim would have died from those hits.
But MaxisMan wasn't normal. He wasn't even bleeding from his injuries. The yellow and black hero simply rolled away and scrambled to his feet.
"I see," he said, sadly shaking his head. "Even the strongest among us are not immune to Dr. Vu's influence. What chance did a mere mayor stand?" He clenched his fists and assumed a fighting stance. "Very well. It is my duty to free you from these illusions and return you to your rightful station. Have at you!"
Now we're talking! I took my own stance. Show me what you've got!
MaxisMan began by drawing back his arm. Great. Typical musclehead.
People like him were why normal sims couldn't fight. Combat required dispelling one's natural instincts; proper weapons handling was almost always the opposite of intuition and unarmed fighting was no different. Brute force or technique alone could only go so far, and overspecializing in either would eventually backfire.
I stopped him with a left jab.
He must have been surprised. After all the battles he'd waged against common criminals and Vu's minions, MaxisMan was facing someone other than typical rabble. In truth, any military veteran or police officer could have taken him down; his only advantage over a typical sim was brute strength.
I didn't follow up so I could see what he would do. Proving my assessment true, MaxisMan tried a double hammer punch.
Fool. I flanked the amateur before he could bring his arms down. Once I was behind him, I backhanded him with a strike to the base of the skull, sending him back to the floor. To punish him further, I grabbed him by the back of his head and grated his face against the ground before tossing him away. Don't get up.
He stood up. All MaxisMan had to do was stay down, and he chose to stand. Determination was a common flaw among heroes; they never knew when to quit. "It's not over yet," he growled, wiping the dirt from his chin.
I suspected as much. Underneath the costumes were power-mad narcissists who refused to yield power at any cost. MaxisMan was an attack dog's soul covered by a veneer of sophistication. He was almost pitiful.
With a feral roar, he lowered his head and charged like a bull. I took a low stance and allowed him to collide with me. He'd just made his last mistake.
"What?" he blurted as he realized his strength was useless.
I silenced MaxisMan by driving an elbow into the back of his neck and then kicking his legs out from under him. After he landed on his back, I knocked him out with a mounted punch to the face.
"Impossible…" he muttered before passing out. It wouldn't have been a surprise to him if he'd ever been defeated before.
"Not bad," Igami commented from behind me. "Rally point's prepped and lot's ready for scuttling." He drew his scythe and carved a hole in reality.
Igami could be trusted to properly demolish the lot. Preserving the hideout was unnecessary. It was a prefab building, with its design and furnishings already saved in the lot bin. All we had to do was plop it down and move in.
"Thanks," I said. "I'll see you there."