There was no time for delicacy. Alex knocked on each door and pushed her way into the room without waiting for a response. “Do you have a gun?” she snapped at the baffled, disheveled occupants, and tossed their rooms as quickly as possible. A senator, pasty above a pair of silk sock garters, spread his arms protectively in front of a pair of teenage prostitutes; whether to shield them from her or to prevent her from taking a clear picture she couldn’t say, and didn’t care. “Sorry,” she clipped, and moved on to the next room.

“Do you have a gun?”

“Why, yes.” He was an old man, with a large white head like a soft-boiled egg. “Would you like to see it?” He threw it to her, a strange, unbalanced pistol like a ray gun. “It’s already armed, I’m afraid. It should explode in a few seconds.”

She swore and threw the gun back at him without looking. She hit the door opposite like a wrecking ball and was tackling the young man who stood beside the bed before it had closed, throwing them both down on the other side of the mattress.

“What are you–” He started to push her off but she pinned him between her thighs.

“Stay down,” she hissed. “Stay down!”