Whiphounds are multi-purpose personal sidearms and interrogation devices, carried in holsters by prefects, members of the Panoply law enforcement organisation on Yellowstone and the Glitter Band.

Description Edit

The following is an overview of a whiphound's capabilities, based on what particular mode it is set to by a prefect.

Whip Mode and arrest mode Edit

The standard weapon-mode and autonomous behaviour mode of a whiphound.

Sparver's hand moved to his belt. He unclipped the handle of his whiphound and flicked it to deploy the filament. It cracked as it spun out to its maximum extension, lashing the floor.


Sparver released the whiphound. The handle remained at waist height, supported by the coiled extremity of its stiffened filament. It swayed from side to side with the questing motion of a snake. Then it curled around and aimed itself at the man.
A bright red dot appeared on his Adam's apple.
"I need you to answer a question for me," Sparver said. "How attached are you to your fingers?"
The man inhaled and held his breath.
"The whiphound has a mark on you now," Sparver continued. "If it detects hostile intent — and it's very, very good at detecting hostile intent — it'll be on you faster than a nerve impulse can travel down your arm. When it reaches you, it'll do something quite nasty with the sharp edge of that filament."
The man opened his mouth to say something, but all that came out was a dry croak. He spread both his hands, opening his fingers and thumbs as wide as they would go.
"Sensible," Sparver said. "Now hold that pose, but step away from the core." He nodded at Thalia, giving her the go-ahead to start securing the evidence. The whiphound stayed by his side, its blunt head tracking the man as he inched away from the central column.


Thalia glanced at the man Sparver's whiphound was still detaining. For the first time in his life, his implants would no longer be in constant communication with the informational matrix beyond House Perigal. It must have felt like the drop of a guillotine.


Sparver smiled at the technician again. "We're done. Can I trust you not to do anything silly if I pull the whiphound off you?"
The man swallowed painfully and twitched his head in a nod.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Sparver said. He reached out his hand and beckoned the whiphound. With a flick of its tail, the weapon sprang its handle into Sparver's grip, the tail whisking back into the housing with a lashing sound.

- excerpts from Chapter 1 of Aurora Rising (a.k.a. The Prefect) [1]

Forward surveillance mode Edit

One of the autonomous modes, for stealthy surveillance in places that could prove too dangerous for an individual prefect. While in this mode, the whiphound is sent forward on its own and monitored by the prefect who wields it.

She whispered a command to the whiphound. "Forward surveillance mode. Advance twenty metres and hold for one hundred seconds before returning. Extreme stealth posture."
She let go of the handle. With uncanny speed, the whiphound deployed its filament and slithered through one of the diamond-shaped gaps in the hedge. Thalia heard the merest hiss of disturbed foliage, then nothing. She touched a finger to the side of her glasses, opening a window that showed the whiphound's point of view. The image remained level as the machine slinked to its surveillance point, directly ahead of the Thalia. Through the gaps in the hedge she could just see the thin cord of its filament, coiling along the ground with the handle only a few handwidths above the grass.

- excerpt from Chapter 14 of Aurora Rising (a.k.a. The Prefect) [2]

Sword Mode Edit

A weapon-mode that modifies the whiphound's filament into a sword-like blade with a high level of sharpness.

"Three days later he was found dead in his quarters. He'd used a whiphound on himself, set to sword mode."

- excerpts from Chapter 9 of Aurora Rising (a.k.a. The Prefect) [3]

Thalia thumbed one of the heavy-duty controls set into the whiphound's handle. Sword mode. The filament whisked out to a length of one metre, but stiffened to the rigidity of a laser beam. Gripping the thing in both hands, Thalia pushed the blade into the hedge. She sliced sideways, the whiphound automatically twisting the blade to bring the microscopic ablative mechanisms of the cutting edge into play. There was no detectable resistance. A downward swoop, a sweep across, a sweep up. She retracted the blade, then pushed against the cube of hedge she had cut free. It eased inwards, then flopped back onto the turf on the other side. With hindsight, she should have cut a wider hole.


Thalia thumbed the heavy control that invoked sword mode and hoped that there was still enough functionality left in the whiphound to spool out and stiffen its filament. The handle buzzed like a trapped wasp; nothing happened. She thumbed the control again, willing the whiphound to respond. The filament inched out, the buzzing intensifying. Ten centimetres, then fifteen. Twenty before it reached its limit. But it appeared to be rigid and straight.

- excerpts from Chapter 14 of Aurora Rising (a.k.a. The Prefect) [4]

Grenade Mode Edit

An emergency explosive or incapacitating weapon-mode, with the whiphound utilised as a throwing weapon.

The servitor was still approaching.
Thalia slowed as a cold, clear thought shaped itself. The whiphound was damaged, useless as a weapon now except in one very terminal sense. Thalia stopped, spun on her heels and grabbed at the handle. There was a gash in the casing, exposing obscene layers of internal componentry, things she had never been meant to see. The handle was warm, and every time it buzzed she felt it tremor in her hands. The tail drooped in a plumb line. Thalia twisted the knurled dials at the end of the handle, bringing two tiny red dots into alignment. The dots lit up and started pulsing.
Grenade mode. Minimum yield. Five-second fuse on release.
The tail sped back into the housing. The black handle was still buzzing in her hand, but the training slammed home with the icy clarity of something that had been burnt into muscle memory by agonising repetition.
She flung the whiphound. It left her hand, following a smooth arc towards the still-approaching servitor. She had aimed it to land just ahead of the machine, directly in its path. Too close and the manipulators would have time to pick it up and fling it aside. Too early, and it wouldn't do enough damage. She'd have liked the luxury of requesting maximum yield, but while that would have taken care of the advancing machine, it wouldn't have done wonders for Thalia or her party.
One second.
"Get down!" she shouted, preparing to fling herself against the ground.

- excerpt from Chapter 14 of Aurora Rising (a.k.a. The Prefect) [5]

Appearances Edit


  1. Aurora Rising (2007), chapter 1
  2. Aurora Rising (2007), chapter 14
  3. Aurora Rising (2007), chapter 9
  4. Aurora Rising (2007), chapter 14
  5. Aurora Rising (2007), chapter 14

See alsoEdit

Melee weapons | Whiphound | Crossbow | Clockwork gun
Slug-gun | Submachine gun | Dart rifle | Electromagnetic needle-gun
"Beamer" pistol | Particle-beam rifle | Plasma rifle | Plasma bazooka
Ouroborus-class Worm | Weevil-class War Robot | Whiphound
Magnetic railgun | Boser | Ack-am | Foam-phase Munition | Pin-head munitions
Camouflaging screens | Hypometric weapon | Bladder-mine
Cache Weapons | Solar Weapon
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