The text message popped up just after 2:20 AM. For anything else, Tony would have ignored it, but this was the ringtone he and Miss Potts had agreed upon. He reached out and felt around on the floor next to the mattress until he found his phone and turned it on. The little screen seemed painfully bright in the dark room.
Insurgents on Colombia-Peru border with old Soviet warhead, said the message. Payload may no longer be viable but can’t take chances.
"Right," Tony said out loud, rubbing his face. "I’m up. I’m up. I’m on my way."
He rolled off his mattress - he really did need a real bed, and with what Miss Potts paid him for this he had no excuse for not buying one - and found a t-shirt. After a moment’s groping in the dark he dug his tablet out of the mess on his desk - he had a desk, why the hell didn’t he have a bed? - and turned it on as he headed for the elevator.
"Morning, JANIS," he yawned, as the screen lit.
Good Morning, Tony, the computer’s calm voice replied. I suppose it is, technically, morning, although the sun won’t be up for another four hours. I’ve started coffee.
"Good girl," said Tony with a nod.
The elevator whizzed up from Tony’s basement workshop-cum-apartment to the top floor: just above the penthouse where Miss Potts lived was what he and she referred to as the Hangar. Most people assumed the top of Potts Tower was just a decorative spire to give the building a distinctive profile, as well as a place to put communications antennae. Inside, however, it was home now to nearly two dozen suits of armour, some of them highly specialized. Tony put his thumb on the scanner, and the elevator door rumbled open.
JANIS had already begun booting the control computers. Screens were flickering as the server bulldozed through the diagnostics and system tests. Their link to Air Traffic Control at LaGuardia and JFK - only slightly illegal compared to some of the other parts of the project - was already online, displaying the radar readings on the largest monitor.
"How do we look?" asked Tony. He went straight for the automatic coffeemaker and poured himself a cup.
We’ll have our first opening for takeoff in seven minutes, and another in sixteen, JANIS replied. Miss Potts is on her way up.
Tony sat down at the control desk and began flicking switches. “Keep the coffee coming.”
The screens went blank, and one by one a bank of lights lit up green.
Diagnostics complete, said JANIS. Project Rescue is go.