It was Sylia's fault she was in this predicament. Sylia's and Priss's and Nene's...

The boomer fired another fusillade over her head, and she crouched down lower, hands over her head protectively.

...and Genom's.

Regaining her feet during a sudden pause in the firing, she ran as quickly as she could down the row of machines, hoping that being bent-over would keep the boomer from noticing her. No such luck - her pursuer rounded the corner into the aisle and fired down its length, forcing her to dive to her right for cover. Unfortunately, left was the direction she wanted to go.

She squirmed into the scant cover provided by a low table, but the boomer, which had seen her go underneath, flipped it over. She was up and running again, sprinting across the area, trying to get away. The boomer's shot smacked her in the right shoulder, sending her into a tumbling roll. Coming out of the roll she scrambled again for cover.

And Tokyo god damned Electric!

SPIN CYCLE

Another story of the Bubblegum Crisis
by Jeanne Hedge


Linna Yamazaki woke that morning to the sound of silence.

It had been a late night. Nene had heard of a new dance club and had wanted to go. Still not confident enough to ask a guy to go out with her or to go alone herself, she had, in a few short hours, managed to get a group of friends, both male and female, to go with her.

Linna had been planning on spending a quiet evening at home, catching up on her cleaning, laundry, and recorded television dramas. But she could only take so much of Nene's begging her to come along, and eventually gave in to the younger woman. She had had fun, met a few new people, and decided that that girl Naoko would be the perfect one to run a matchmaking service.

She also hadn't failed to notice that Priss was most certainly not present for Nene's little gathering. When asked, Nene had told her that they didn't need Priss around to have a good time. When pressed, Nene admitted that Priss had turned her invitation down.

Since Linna knew that Priss had spent the previous two evenings visiting some of the city's dumpier dives, she decided that Priss had probably turned Nene down so she could get her laundry done. For herself, Linna didn't regret going along on Priss's tour. While the singer tended to gravitate toward rat holes, she always knew where to find good music.

Linna rolled over in bed, wriggling into a comfortable position under her coverlet, intending to go back to sleep, when it struck her. It was quiet in her condo.

It was never quiet in her condo. Soundproofing had eliminated noise from outside, but there were always the small noises of daily life from within. The quiet "hmmm" of appliances, the "whooshing" of the ventilation system, even the ticking of the clock on her bedside table - nothing!

A quick check of the bedside clock revealed the apparent cause of this non-commotion - the power was out, and had been so since 5:17 that morning.

"Damn." Linna rolled out of bed and pulled on the clothing at hand - the jeans and t-shirt she'd changed from to go out the night before. She went into her living room and looked out the window.

Things seemed fine outside. The building across the street looked like everything was normal, traffic was moving, people were going to and fro along the sidewalks. It all seemed quite normal. Except her apartment had no electricity.

A quick visit to the breaker box shed little light on the situation, as everything looked fine there. OK, time to call building maintenance. No answer from building maintenance. OK, check with the neighbors.

Mrs. Yoshida was the only one home, the power was out in her apartment too, but she didn't know any more than Linna did. "You youngsters are just too reliant on your gadgets! Back in the seventies we didn't have all these pocket-sized phones and pocket-sized computers and machines to record our programs and..." After listening politely to Mrs. Yoshida's rantings for ten minutes or so, Linna was finally able to escape back to her apartment.

OK, what next? It was so obvious, Linna kicked herself for not doing it first (and saving herself from Mrs. Yoshida) - she called the building's concierge desk. "Tokyo Electric's calling it a power surge, took out the whole area for a while this morning. They're up and running across the street, but I guess they're on a different part of the power grid."

"But why didn't the building's generator kick in?"

"It did, for a while. The maintenance staff is working on it, but we think TE'll have power back up before they get the generator fixed."

Geez... "So when are we supposed to have power back? I've got things I need to do today..."

"Oh, they're saying three or four more hours."

"Three or four!"

"Maybe sooner, but probably not much. I guess it was some kind of power surge, and they're having to replace a bunch of hardware that got fried. That's a problem for you, huh?"

"Uh, yeah, just a bit..."

Making polite noises at each other for a few moments more, they wrapped the conversation up. Linna strolled into the kitchen and started water boiling for tea, glad that she hadn't replaced her gas stove with an electric model. Sitting at the kitchen table, face on fist, she considered all the things she had planned to do that day and, of those, what she actually could or should do.

Groceries could wait until the power was back. Why give things a chance to go bad. Cleaning? She couldn't run the sweeper on the carpet, so unless she wanted to do a little now and a little later, cleaning could wait. Trash? Can't run the trash compactor. A sudden thought jolted her upright, sent her dashing to her bedroom.

Laundry!

What with going out with Nene and Priss and other people, meetings with Sylia, and various jobs of both mundane and Saber variety, she hadn't been able to do her laundry for a while. And now...

She dug through her chest of drawers, through the linen hamper, peered annoyedly into the baskets of both washer and drier, and discovered it was worse than she'd expected. She was out of clean underwear.

Not a total disaster, she'd done without plenty of times before, but a girl did have standards after all. She could hear her mother's voice: "Always wear clean underwear. You don't want them to think badly of you if you have an accident." OK, she'd do laundry.

Unfortunately, one of the things she liked least about her condo was that there was no room for clothes lines or drying racks on the roof, she didn't have a balcony, and she didn't have a really good place to hang clean laundry to air-dry inside her apartment. All of which meant she would have to pay a visit to a laundromat.

The laundromat was about what Linna expected, as she staggered through the door, arms loaded with four pillow cases stuffed with dirty laundry and laundry supplies. Six washers and six dryers, arranged three to a side along two aisles, crossed the width of the room, with two more of each of the heavy-duty variety at the back. Most of the machines appeared to be already in use. Scattered around were chairs and two tables for folding laundry. The only person evident was an old man sitting at the foot of some stairs at the rear, and the back door appeared to be barred closed.

Linna dropped the stuffed pillow cases onto the nearest table with a sigh, and shook out her arms, cramping a little due to the awkwardness of carrying her makeshift laundry bags. She had started toward the washers in search of a vacancy when movement in the corner of her eye brought her to a sudden halt. When she cleared the doorway the laundromat's serv-bot had left its charging alcove near the middle of the room and began moving in her direction. It still was, and she reflexively tensed then forcibly relaxed. Not every Genom-built mechanical was a raging out of control boomer after all.

"Welcome to Suzuki Laundry," the 'bot greeted her, much to her surprise. The 'bot reminded her of a small vending machine, with arms and wheeled legs. The "body" had a slot marked for currency, another for credit cards, and a flapper door. It seemed a bit on the bulky side, she thought, unless it was a sales model. "I am able to provide laundry provisions for a fee," it continued, confirming her guess as to its type, "recharge credit cards for a fee, or provide coins in exchange for credit or paper currency. If you require information about the use of laundry machines or wish to report a problem with laundry machines, please notify me. May I be of service?"

"N-no, thank you." Linna replied, stammering a little out of sheer surprise at the verbosity of the 'bot. The service units she'd had experience with had been practically mute. Watching the 'bot for a moment as it returned to its charging alcove, she wondered idly if Genom had come out with a new model or if its programming had been hacked.

A few minutes later, Linna had started her first two loads in adjoining washing machines and was still marveling at the apparently high-level programming present in the low-level service robot. Several people had come in and out of the laundry in the last few minutes, and the 'bot had never failed to come up with the proper response - "welcome" for new arrivals, "welcome back" for returnees, "thank you, come again soon" for those leaving.

Once again alone in the shop, she turned from her machines, intending to sit down and read the magazine she'd brought, and almost ran into the old man who had been sitting in the back when she'd come in. "Oh, excuse me!" she said, stepping back and to the side a little. "Can I help you?"

"Why, yes, thank you." He then proceeded to grab at her breasts with one hand while groping himself with the other.

Linna rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand, bending it backward. "I don't think so. Get out of here, little man," she said, giving him a shove. Rubbing his wrist and giggling, he went back to the rear of the store, leering back at her has he went. "Pachinko upstairs, if you get bored sweetie!" he called in his wake as he disappeared up the stairs. Linna rolled her eyes again, and once more started for the chairs. Good grief, what next?

Almost as she sat down onto the hard plastic chair, the lights flickered, dimmed for several seconds, flickered again, then returned to normal brightness. Hmmm, I wonder... It would be just my luck to have the power come back right after I've started things here.

Several older women entered the laundromat, some going to washers, others to dryers. Linna watched idly, then with growning concern as the women happily chattered away while they tended their laundry. Something seemed wrong about this happy scene, but she couldn't put her finger on what it was.

Until the first box of laundry soap flew across the room, splatting into the wall and barely missing the head of a woman folding her laundry at one of the tables.

What the...? Everyone turned to the source of the soap - the service robot. They all watched in shock as it fired a packet of fabric softener, splatting on the wall just below the previously launched soap. Then it began to move from the charger.

Package after package flew from the flapper door as it roamed the room, firing wildly at the screaming, ducking women, asking all the while "May I be of service?" boom! "Welcome to Suzuki Laundry." bang! "Got soap?"

Anyone moving toward the entrance was cut off by a flurry of laundry products. The women were screaming, hiding behind tables, behind chairs, behind washers and dryers. Linna couldn't understand why the lecher upstairs hadn't come down to see what the fuss was, couldn't understand why no one on the street had noticed the screaming women running around the laundromat or the soap powder spattered over the inside of the front window. Time to call for help she decided, and only then did she realize somewhere along the line her cell phone had fallen out of her pocket. It was on the other side of the room, near the chair she'd been sitting in.

Turning to the granny next to her, who appeared to be about 80 despite her jet-black hair, Linna said, "I'm going to distract it. When I do, you and the others get out and call the police. I think its brains got scrambled by a power surge." The granny patted her arm in reply, and started whispering to the granny next to her.

After a couple deep breaths, Linna scrambled around the corner, leaving the grannies hidden behind the row of washers. Unnoticed by the 'bot in the first aisle, she belly crawled back to the second aisle, coming to a halt next to one of the chairs. Not much as a weapon, but it would do for her purposes.

Linna jumped to her feet, screaming "Hey! Yo! Go!" at the top of her lungs and threw the chair against the back of the 'bot's head. She heard the other women starting to move toward the front doors, and started leading the 'bot toward the rear of the building. It kept turning to guard the front doors, firing soap, softener, coins, laundry bags in turn, and she kept having to physically hit it with chairs, tables, trash bins, to re-attract its attention and give the ladies a chance to get out.

Damn thing's so single minded, it's acting almost like a rogue boomer, part of her brain observed. Another part of her brain observed "her" granny give a wave as she left the building, the last of the group. All clear, time to get out herself. Would it be safer to head upstairs, to "pachinko" and warn the old man? A third part of her brain noticed the boomer heading back in her direction, and she decided whatever she was going to do, she'd better do it now.

She rolled across the floor to the foot of the stairs, intending to go up. Boomers on rollers weren't likely to do stairs, after all. The boomer fired over her head, coins pounding a tattoo into the locked and barred rear door like machine gun bullets and keeping her from her feet.

If only she had had time to do her laundry the other day. It was Sylia's fault she was in this predicament. Sylia's and Priss's and Nene's...

The boomer fired another fusillade over her head, and she crouched down lower, hands over her head protectively.

...and Genom's.

Regaining her feet during a sudden pause in the firing, she ran as quickly as she could down the row of machines, hoping that being bent-over would keep the boomer from noticing her. No such luck - her pursuer rounded the corner into the aisle and fired down its length, forcing her to dive to her right for cover. Unfortunately, left was the direction she wanted to go.

She squirmed into the scant cover provided by a low table, but the boomer, which had seen her go underneath, flipped it over. She was up and running again, sprinting across the area, trying to get away. The boomer's shot smacked her in the right shoulder, sending her into a tumbling roll. Coming out of the roll she scrambled again for cover.

And Tokyo god damned Electric!

"Look out!" A man's voice from the front of the room, then a blue-white flash and the smell of smoke, as every machine in the laundromat, service robot included, ground to a halt.

Linna, blinking purple splotches from her eyes, heard several people moving into the room. She heard someone coming in her direction, and from the creaking of the steps, she knew someone had gone upstairs. Abstractedly, she wondered if they'd catch the old man doing something perverted.

A few more moments and her vision cleared enough for her to see that an AD Police officer was kneeling at her side. Glancing around the room, she saw two officers scanning the still smoking service robot. A sergeant standing near the entrance was giving another officer hell. It sounded like someone had set the power on the EMP gun too high and they'd fried the electronics of everything in the shop. She personally didn't mind; she was tired of playing chase with that thing. Except...

"Ma'am, are you all right, can I help you with anything?" The cop kneeling next to her had a strange look on her face, probably matching the one on Linna's.

"Well, yeah. Can you help me find some clean underwear?"

The End


Author's Notes:
If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed the story, a little salute to "Linna Yamazaki, Neglected Knight Saber". I had a difficult time coming up with a title. For a while it looked like "A Little CHEER for Linna" would be the choice, but cooler heads prevailed and I decided to not inflict pun-ishment like that on unsuspecting readers ("Got soap?" is bad enough as it is).

Thanks to the BGC writer's group for your comments on this story. If you have any comments or useful criticism, please let me hear them.

Disclaimer: I do not own any character from Bubblegum Crisis involved in this story. I don't know who does own them by these days, I'm just borrowing them for a while. As a wise man once said, "please don't sue me".

Spin Cycle was written during March, 2003