Casus Bella: 47 – The Thin Blue Line

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After my encounter with Macie the Evil Receptionist, my misgivings about the Detective Career Track only grew.

It wasn’t anything Macie said. I have what it takes to be a good cop. It might even be funny to try to be a bad one. With my background in Agatha Christie-esque whodunits, I was more than qualified for a lead role in a police procedural blog.

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And it wasn’t that I didn’t like the work.

Sure, there were times I was so painfully bored I’m just glad it’s not possible to throw yourself over a balcony rail onto the hard stone flooring below.

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I mean, all that’s to be expected in a police procedural. The desk-bound days writing reports and filing paperwork, cross-referencing fresh clues with old leads in the police database, running lab tests  …

In a police procedural, you need to convey the boredom without, you know, spreading it.

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It wasn’t because the job left little time for life off-the-clock. Again, I expected that from this subgenre, and I got unexpected help dealing with it.

My spacious home would still be littered with stinkwave-emitting dishes if Josie Tyler did not visit most evenings after work and stick around to tidy up while I slept.

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No, it was the effect my career track choice was having on the game itself. I started noticing it while I was processing jail inmates at the end of my first day on the force.

I picked the cutest guy in the holding cell to process first, and as I led him to the processing station, I was thinking we might have become good friends, if he had been spawned under other circumstances.

And he appeared to be happy to see me.

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But the illusions started to crumble as I began frisking that first inmate.

“What’s this?” I wondered as I felt around the waistband of his prison jumper.

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I pulled the contraband from his front pants pocket with a mix of surprise and disappointment

“A turkey baster? Really?” I said.

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“I guess this means you weren’t happy to see me.”

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As I led him back to the holding cell, I realized that all the inmates seemed freshly spawned.

Fully realized Sims with their own genetics, Traits, Aspirations and Whims, but created in a cage, their lives arbitrarily curtailed at creation, through no fault of their own.

For no reason but to provide a social backdrop to my time on duty.

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It didn’t seem fair to them. There was no consolation knowing that they would not exist at all if I wasn’t playing detective.

Yes, perhaps, one might argue, I had given them life, but what sort of life had I given them?

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The life of an eternal suspect, held without charge and without opportunity to post bail, for as long as this Saved Game is in play?

To live in a dark cell, occasionally marched out to the processing station to be prodded and printed and photographed when I needed the job performance points?

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To suffer the mortification of having to pee in public every day of your miserable life?

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And with aging turned off for all but the Active Household?

That miserable life would be a very, very long one indeed.

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As bad, if not worse, was the effect my career choice was having on the World around me and the Sims who live there.

The very Sims I was sworn to protect and serve.

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The thought continued to nag me Monday night, as I was getting ready for a gathering of the Upper Crusts that I arranged when I got home from work.

When I left for work that morning, there were 195 Sims in the World. I figured the 195th was Jasmine Holiday, a special NPC who had been downloaded in the March 2016 patch to oversee a seasonal challenge that downloaded with her.

When I got home there were 202 Sims in the World, just eight short of the population limit.

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Sure, we had a mod installed the disabled culling in our World, but if that mod ever failed, it could lead to the mass slaughter of Townies and Ghosts.

And even if it never failed, how many Sims could we let the game jam into the World before load-times become insufferably long, or our World crashes irretrievably to desktop, never to be played again?

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Months of careful population management and Travel restrictions and weeks employing third-party mods had kept the local population in check.

And I was about to undo all that hard work and deferred gratification in just one week on the Detective Career Track.

I tried not to let those thoughts spoil my club gathering, and I did have some consolation.

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I knew the local Player wanted to watch me play detective as much as I wanted to play detective. And we both felt we should consider this as an experiment.

We should continue down the Detective Career Track while monitoring the population, trolling teh Forums for more information and gathering data and anecdotal evidence.

The club gathering went well. Even Clare Bjergsen, who’d kicked me out of her house the night before, seemed begrudgingly impressed by my taco casserole.

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Hugo Villareal was so impressed by the dish that he kept uploading photos of it to his Pinterest account.

I wasn’t so impressed. Sure, the club is about eating and drinking and preparing food and drink, and all of that appeals to my Glutton Trait, but that was all the club was about.

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Left to run autonomously, we never really engaged in conversation so much we snatched bits conversation between gulps of Zebra Fizz and mouthfuls of Caprese Salad.

We didn’t so much interact with each other as interact near each other, sort of the way Toddlers behave in group settings, if Toddlers were real.

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And it would soon become stinkily apparent that helping with the dirty dishes was not an Upper Crust club-sanctioned activity.

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Of course, one can add sanctioned and prohibited interactions to a club, but only as its leader. Though it might be interesting to take over an existing club someday, it would be a lot easier just to start a club from scratch.

And invite my friends to join.

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But I can see sticking with the Upper Crusts for a while. With Clare, I would have the challenge of turning a mild enemy into a good friend, and I was gaining Cooking and Mixology points like crazy.

As a goodwill gesture, I spent some of our points making the Upper Crusts a popular club, thinking that would appeal to Clare’s ego and give Hugo and Mila Munsch a helpful social buff.

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And on my way to bed that Monday night, I thought to add my two best friends to the club, so I could see them at the next gathering.

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I saw one of them the next morning, while on foot patrol in Willow Brook, and she had grown enormously since I’d seen her Sunday afternoon. I tried to get to her to ask her the due date, but Sarafina Plumsin got to me first.

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“So you really did it. Went over to the Dark Side,” she said.

“The Dark Side? I prefer to think of it as the Thin Blue Line,” Debbie said. “Protecting the World from guerilla art and lawlessness.”

“Yeah? So I guess there’s no law against stealing another blogger’s jokes?”

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“Are you talking about the joy-buzzer bit?” I asked. “I totally credited you and Candy Corny for that one!”

“No, I’m talking about the turkey baster bit.”

That bit! You’re kidding me!” I said. “That bit is as old as … well … as old as talkies.”

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“Yeah. Whatever,” Sarafina said begrudgingly. “But I thought of plagiarizing it first.”

“Well, don’t blame me,” I said. “I don’t write my own material while I’m here.”

“You mean … you let … him …?”

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I pressed my fingertips to my newly emerging migraine and nodded.

“Ah ha,” Sarafina said. “So that explains all the angst and self-doubt over the past two chapters.”

“Not to mention my complete inability to Focus at work.”

“Does he have you raising tilapia in the spare tub yet?”

“I have five bathtubs and a hot tub outside,” I said. “Please don’t give him any more ideas.”

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