The Weapon

The Weapon

by Heather Hopkins

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Veronica Stone is a technology genius and inventor of the groundbreaking holographic cell phone. Her phone is harmless, an entertaining bit of high-tech wizardry, until it falls into the wrong hands. She is unaware of a wasting disease, invented by a Cold War Russian scientist, who lacked the technology to make his illness take effect.
Now, years after the Cold

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Veronica Stone is a technology genius and inventor of the groundbreaking holographic cell phone. Her phone is harmless, an entertaining bit of high-tech wizardry, until it falls into the wrong hands. She is unaware of a wasting disease, invented by a Cold War Russian scientist, who lacked the technology to make his illness take effect.
Now, years after the Cold War, a nefarious Japanese businessman somehow has gotten his hands on this scientist’s notes, but he requires Veronica’s phone to enact his horrific plan. He employs Veronica’s invention to create a new and virtually indestructible weapon the world has never seen. Of course, she realizes none of this when she is seduced by the businessman’s offer of fortune and fame by agreeing to give him the application of her invention.
After making this agreement, she is soon framed for the attempted murder of the president of the United States, so Veronica is on the run, in search of a cure for the horrible disease she unknowingly helped to weaponize. Veronica will need more than her intellect to clear her name; she’ll need calm calculation and bravery to save her nation, her family, and her life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hopkins will lose many of her readers from the outset of this present-day thriller when she introduces her heroine, Veronica Stone, "the leading technologist in the world," who also happens to be "tall, raven-haired, and curvaceous," and often mistaken for a model. After her company rolls out a high-definition, three-dimensional video cellphone, Stone is approached by her chief business rival, Hirojia Nakashimi, who wants her assistance making conventional arms obsolete by weaponizing radio signals and light—the key to creating this new weapon (based on old Russian plans) is Stone's breakthrough in three-dimensional imaging. Unsurprisingly, Stone's decision to help Nakashimi places her life in jeopardy and leads to threats against her family. Plausibility is in short supply, with hard-to-believe gaps in national security created to advance the plot and Stone's transformation into a woman of action unconvincing.

Product Details

Vantage Press, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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Abbott Press

Copyright © 2014 Heather Hopkins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4582-1386-0


Veronica Stone stood behind the podium, looking over the crowd of CEOs and government bureaucrats in front of her. She liked the effect her appearance had on the room. As usual, the conference was 98 percent men, and every one of them was staring at her and fiddling with their wedding rings. As the leading technologist in the world, and because she studiously kept pictures of herself out of trade magazines and newspapers, most people assumed someone as brilliant and successful as she was would look like a female Bill Gates. Veronica was quite the contrary. She was tall, raven- haired, and curvaceous, with startling ice-blue eyes and the classic features of a silent film star. In fact, when people saw her on the street, they assumed she was a model or a movie actress. She kept her picture under wraps. When she was starting StoneCorp, the industry and the stock market would have never taken her seriously if they knew what she looked like. Besides, keeping her appearance mysterious heightened the shock and opened up company wallets. Alex liked to say Veronica's face was the face that launched a thousand microchips.

Veronica took a long sip from her water glass, smiling over it to accentuate the suppleness of her lips. She guessed that the pathetic, fidgeting men in the front would make passes at her later at the reception. The conference had been boring, as usual.

She continued reciting her speech from memory, having decided long ago that notes were beneath her. "You might have heard of this. In 1872, near Talcott, West Virginia, John Henry, a black steel driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad entered a contest with a steam drill. Stream drills were a new technology, unknown to the men cutting through mountains of shale with their bare hands all the way from where we sit here in air-conditioned comfort in Washington, D.C., to Cincinnati, Ohio. That morning, John Henry, the strongest man on the line, and his shaker, the man who risked death by placing the bit in front of John Henry's hammer, lined up alongside Charles Burleigh's new drill. Burleigh, a carpetbagger salesman in a new top hat, had set up the contest.

Unless John Henry beat Burleigh's drill, the railroad would buy the new machines, and the infernal technology would make steel drivers and shakers obsolete."

The crowd was rapt, as usual. But as Veronica scanned the room in pleasure, she noticed a Japanese gentleman she didn't recognize, glance at his wristwatch. The platinum and diamond-studded band shot the room's lights back at her in a fan of color. The man was dressed in an extremely expensive suit, older, with a white crew cut and the shrewd gaze of someone who was no longer capable of surprise, or of being put off guard by Veronica's looks. He leaned back in his chair and held something up to his ear, chatting amiably into it as if he was sitting alone in his back garden. Everyone was so busy staring at her; they failed to notice this man. He was talking into a cell phone the size of a quarter. She'd never seen anything like it.

She took an ice cube from her glass with her lips and let it drop back into the water. The Japanese man was lost in his conversation and failed to see it. The man next to him dropped his fork. Veronica continued, "The gun went off and John Henry hammered, he and his shaker moving faster than wind, their faces sweaty, their muscles tensing and relaxing, faster and faster, their cheeks billowing, their hearts thundering in unison, the two of them turning the shale to dust. The machine followed woefully behind them, spitting smoke and fire, the salesman riding it like a mechanical bull." She looked up again. This was her favorite portion of the speech, the one she practiced on Alex. The men in the crowd were practically drooling over their filet mignon. If they were going to look at her as a sex object, she might as well use it to wrap them up in knots until they were willing to sign over every contract and project they had to StoneCorp. But the Japanese man was still on his phone. Veronica fought the urge to throw her water glass. She wasn't used to people ignoring her.

Veronica continued her eyes on the man's phone. "Finally, John Henry pounded in his last spike. He'd tunneled through his portion of the mountain. The machine was still far behind, coughing clouds of sparks and black dust. The railroad men around him cheered and clapped, throwing their hammers and spikes in the air, while the salesman stomped on his hat. The machine was beaten. They were saved. Human blood, muscle, and bone had beaten it. It was clear the new technology was no match for a good, strong man. Once again, the human had proved himself unsurpassable and irreplaceable – better than any spiritless hunk of bolts and steel! Nothing could beat a living, breathing man!" exclaimed Veronica. She paused. The crowd glanced around at each other, unclear whether they had missed something. What kind of speech was this for a conference on cutting edge technology? A few of them looked at their list of speakers. Had they made a mistake? Was this some Luddite environmental activist who had broken into the conference? She had seemed too beautiful to be the famous Veronica Stone.

Veronica smiled. "Then John Henry looked around him one last time. He nodded sadly at his friends, his shaker, and the tunnel he'd made through the rock, the surrounding mountains, and the rail line at his feet. Then he collapsed. The company doctor ran forward and picked up his thick wrist. There was no pulse. His heart had exploded. John Henry, the Great Steel Driving Man of the Chesapeake & Ohio, was dead. While the railroad men sobbed and wailed, the machine continued to hammer, breaking through the rock and trundling past John Henry's body to the next mountain. John Henry lay in the dust, his courage and strength amounting to nothing. Ultimately, the steam drill destroyed John Henry ... And I'm on the side of steam drills."

The crowd cheered. The speech was a classic bait-and-switch. Veronica grinned down at each of them in turn as if she had been telling the story solely to them, solely for their benefit – a private joke they could share. But the Japanese gentleman was still not paying attention. He ran his pen over the program. Something like a black eraser stuck out from the end of it. Was it a scanner?

Veronica finished up her presentation, going into the details of her newest invention – a high definition, three-dimensional video cell phone. Members of her staff circulated through the crowd, passing out prototypes of the new phone. The clarity of the picture was almost unnerving. The person on the other end of the line looked as if a miniature version of his or herself was literally inside the phone looking out from the little window like a person sitting on their stoop. Some of the assembled businessmen actually tried to touch the image with their fingers, as if they could pluck the little person straight from the phone and dangle he or she in front of them like Fay Wray and King

Kong. The assembled leaders laughed and smiled, showing the phones to each other like children with a new toy.

At the reception afterwards, Veronica strode through the crowd nursing a gin and tonic, glad-handing all of the conference goers. An assistant followed close behind her, collecting business cards and writing notes, sometimes disappearing for a moment to freshen Veronica's drink or chase down someone Veronica wanted to talk to. The Japanese gentleman was nowhere to be seen.

Finally, Veronica had the chance to step outside for that rare cigarette. She sent her assistant away and stood under the eaves in the hotel's center garden, looking up at the night sky. A light drizzle fell against the flowers. If the initial interest was any indication, her speech tonight had been worth almost $100 million dollars in contracts to StoneCorp.

"I enjoyed your speech," said a richly baritone voice behind her.

Veronica turned. The Japanese gentlemen stepped out of the shadows, reaching toward her with a silver cigarette lighter. She accepted the flame and smiled at him. "Really? You didn't seem to be paying much attention. I had the impression I was boring you."

"My apologies. It's early in the morning in Japan. I had some things to attend to. That was very rude of me."

"Was that a scanner you were using?"

The gentleman was clearly impressed that she had noticed. "A translator. I wanted to see how it worked on colored type. It's still being beta-tested. The signal goes to a small transmitter in the arm of my eyeglasses. Saves the user from embarrassment."

"Interesting. I assume they're yours?"

The gentleman shrugged. "Some of my company's new ideas.

We'll see how they do. My name is Hirojia Nakashimi. I am extremely pleased to meet you, Ms.

Stone." Veronica tried not to look too impressed. Nakashimi's TechWorks was the only technology company Veronica truly considered a rival. Nakashimi was legendary and, like Veronica, very little was known about him personally. He and his company had been at the forefront of every technological innovation of the last 25 years. If TechWorks was a country, it would be one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the world. In fact, that was the major criticism of Nakashimi and his business methods – Techworks acted as if it was above the law, using the protection of Japan and the other G7 countries interested in having the first chance to bid on its newest inventions for its own ends. It operated from a private island off the coast of Japan. Naval destroyers patrolled at a safe distance. Supposedly, the coast was mined, and there were anti-aircraft cannons in the island's mountains. Techworks was completely isolated and untouchable. Veronica couldn't help but be jealous. Imagine what she could do without prying eyes orregulators looking over her shoulder! The idea made her head spin. "I've always admired your work," said Veronica.

Mr. Nakashimi bowed – really only a slight bob of his head. "Please except my pen as an apology for my behavior. I'll have my people send you a receiver – you can place it on a pair of eyeglasses, or maybe a set of earrings. As of now, it is able to translate sixteen major languages back and forth between each other."

"Thank you. I appreciate the gesture, Mr. Nakashimi. It's very kind."

"Call me Hiro," said the gentleman. He took an intricately carved jade cigarette case from his jacket and lit a cigarette for himself, pausing to admire a blossoming hollyhock. Then he turned to Veronica with a big smile. "How long before you take that pen apart to find out how it works?" he asked.

Veronica paused, unsure whether Hiro was joking. Then she grinned with him. "As soon as I get back up to my room. I have a set of tools with me," she said, laughing up at the raindrops.

"I wouldn't have expected any less." "How about my cell phone?"

Hiro smiled even broader. "On a plane to Japan as we speak," he answered. "So, are you planning on reverse engineering a copy and flooding the Asian market to hold StoneCorp to America and Europe?" asked Veronica, smirking ruefully at the moonlight. Flooding the market with technological knockoffs was one of Techworks's favorite power ploys. If it wanted to take over a market or destroy another company, there was nothing its victim could do to stop it.

"That depends on you," said Hiro. He inhaled deeply, clearly savoring the smoke.

It smelled vaguely of berries.

"What are you talking about?" asked Veronica, her eyebrow arched in suspicion. "I have a proposition," said Hiro. He smiled again. But this time, there was no humor in it.


Nineteen-year-old Veronica Stone looked out over the crowd gathered in Harvard's Tercentennial Theater. It was a beautiful blue Graduation Day, and the sun danced over all of the happy parents and graduates from where Veronica stood in front of Memorial Church all the way to the top of Widener Library's wide steps. Flashbulbs lit up like tiny explosions. People screamed. Some of the undergraduates danced and sang songs.

This was Veronica's first speech in front of such a large group. She couldn't help but feel a little nervous, even though everyone acted as if she admitted her jitters just to be polite – as if she had been pointing out an odd constellation of freckles on her perfect face. She'd entered Harvard at sixteen, and she'd graduated in three years, picking up a Masters in French along the way. She'd won a Hoopes Prize and a Fulbright to Oxford, along with a dozen smaller awards. She was applying for jobs that summer, and her resume was already four pages long without any padding. She was brilliant, gorgeous, and qualified to do anything -- but she was still human.

She counted the lines on her fingertips to calm her nerves, surrounded by two Nobel Prize winners, several top CEOs and politicians, and one of the most respected writers in America. She decided to run her Latin address through her mind once more. She was a whiz with languages, and she had decided that morning she wasn't going to use any notes. Several of the older men smiled at her concentration and focus. Their smiles seemed to say Veronica looked too young and pretty to be graduating first in her class, especially in science. She was determined to show them.

She sailed through her speech. Three boys who considered themselves rivals for Veronica's affection stood to applaud, and the entire Tercentennial Theater burst into a standing ovation. Veronica walked back to her seat. The assembled dignitaries clapped and nodded their congratulations. Several raised their eyes in mock shock. Veronica studied the graduation program. She didn't trust the haughty expression she knew she had on her face.

Afterwards, Veronica made her way through the crowd, hugging friends and being congratulated by her professors. Although she knew better, she kept her eyes out for her parents – maybe they'd come back from Rio or the Costa del Sol or Switzerland or wherever they were this time to see her graduate. She hated herself for hoping. This weakness was one of the things she was trying to get over. She knew caring would be a liability in the male world of international technology and business.

Finally, Veronica made it all the way to the back of the Theater. At the top of Widener's steps, her friend Mary O'Donnell jumped and waved and tried to catch Veronica's attention. Mary's family lived in Beacon Hill, in a huge mansion bordering the Common. Everyone in Mary's family was a lawyer, all the way back to the founding of Boston. But, unlike Veronica's family, they were interested in more than money and power.

It looked like every O'Donnell had come to the graduation. Mary was surrounded by her large Irish family – aunts, uncles, cousins, second-cousins, third-cousins – all of them carrying balloons or flowers or packages. Veronica recognized a few of them from Mary's summerhouse on Nantucket, and a couple cousins who were also attending Harvard. Suddenly, Mary's Uncle Ted whistled and waved his hand above his head as if he were rounding up a herd of escaped horses. When he had gotten the attention of everyone, all of the O'Donnells who were not immediate family trooped away toward Harvard Square.

Once Uncle Ted and the rest of the O'Donnell's were far enough away, Veronica climbed up to Mary and her mother. "Hi – congratulations, Mary. Mrs. O'Donnell," said Veronica.

"Your speech was so great! And I can't believe Harrison stood up to clap for you. After showing up drunk and naked last week, like some goofball freshman. And that poem he wrote on his butt, so stupid." Mary's long and lustrous red hair glowed in the sunlight, like fire dancing above her porcelain skin. Then she noticed her mother frowning at her. She gave her mother an annoyed look, "A Lampoon prank, mother.

He's probably hoping it will get him a job with Conan O'Brien."

Mrs. O'Donnell rolled her eyes. "Is that the boy I just met two minutes ago? His Dad runs the banks in New Jersey?"

"Yes," answered Mary, "That's him."

Mary grabbed Veronica's arm and pulled her to the side, hoping to get just far enough from the ears of her family.


Excerpted from THE WEAPON by HEATHER HOPKINS. Copyright © 2014 Heather Hopkins. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

HEATHER HOPKINS is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in business and has been writing short stories, plays, songs, and articles all of her adult life.  Though Heather enjoys writing both fiction and non-fiction, she has a special affinity for international action thrillers starring strong female characters.  The Weapon was inspired by her wish to create a novel that featured such a character. Heather lives in New Jersey with her husband and her three children.  The Weapon is her first novel.

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