Fwiffo, a Spathi Eluder Captain
The Spathi are a cowardly race of "meta-mollusks." They have a colorful exoskeleton, a single jiggling eye, and jointed pinching claws, possessing the best qualities of both the clam and the dravatz. As a race, the Spathi are absolute cowards and paranoid. They live in constant fear of an undetectable phantom called the Ultimate Evil, which the Spathi are convinced lives just beyond the reaches of their most powerful long-range sensors.
Fwiffo mentions being "the youngest child of a family of 18,487", though it seems unlikely that the Spathi have such a high reproductive ability, usually associated with the Shofixti. This may either be an error in writing the dialogue or a deliberate lie made by Fwiffo. Anyway, this implies that the parents barely even get to call a child by his name due to their large numbers, and also that they must be very succint at ceremonials such as the separation of a youngster from the family - they simply throw him into the street. The Spathi youngsters are named "encrustlings".
The Spathi evolved on the lone planet Epsilon Gruis I (their name for the star is Yuffo and the planet, Spathiwa). Recently, their home planet has been beleaguered by a race of ravenous creatures called the Evil Ones who enjoy eating Spathi, prompting the entire Spathi race to take refuge on Spathiwa's moon.
Their ruling class is known most often as the Safe Ones, also called the Spathi Ruling Council, the High Spathi Ruling Council, the High Ruling Council of Spathiwa, and the Spathi High Council.
When the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za subjugated the Spathi, they offered them the same choice given to each race, as dictated by the Path of Now and Forever: be a fallow slave or Battle Thrall. The Spathi actually chose to be fallow slaves, being rather fond of the idea of being forever protected by an impenetrable Slave Shield. However, the Ur-Quan's Umgah servant who was to notify the Ur-Quan of the Spathi's choice mischeviously reported to the Ur-Quan that the Spathi had chosen to be Battle Thralls. The Spathi attempted to rectify this, but the Ur-Quan would hear none of it - they would be Battle Thralls forever.
According to Fwiffo, the Spathi attempted to avoid combat as much as possible, only to recieve violent reprimands from the Ur-Quan, "each more strident than the last." When the Spathi learned that they were on the verge of being exterminated outright for their repeated disobedience, they set about their duties as battle thralls "with renewed vigor."
The Spathi have a traditional daily prayer which reflects their general attitude towards life (which they name the "mortal helix"): "..Oh God... please don't let me die today! Tomorrow would be so much better!"
The Spathi also have a pre-death ceremony, the ritual of Wezzy-Wezzah. The completion of this short ritual ensures a place in their secure afterlife. A noted attribute of the Spathi's afterworld is the absence of immortal, devouring monsters. However, the ritual of Wezzy-Wezzah is invalid unless performed on the moon of Spathiwa.
They mention having been bored until they bought the game.
The Spathi pilot the very nimble Eluder-class ships.
Sources of information
Relevance to the plot
Any relations with the Spathi are optional. You can ally with them to gain access to their ships. When the Spathi slave-shield themselves on Spathiwa, they leave behind the Umgah Caster on their moon, along with a note explaining what it is. The Spathi also share somewhat useful and vague information on various topics, such as the new Syreen homeworld and the natural QuasiSpace portal.