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Physically, they are a stack of waxy, living rings. Each ring serves a different purpose, and they connect to each other to form a single being by chemical means via an electrically conductive, sap-like substance that flows down the center to bind the stack together. A Master ring provides a strong sense of individuality to each stack and enforces this with corrective electrical shocks to non-compliant rings.
History and origins
The Jophur were originally the traeki, intelligent but often indecisive because of internal debates between the rings that formed each individual. Their patrons, the Poa, asked the Oallie to engineer the traeki further to increase their effectiveness. The Oailie created 'master rings', shiny black rings (often described as 'silvery') that created a strong sense of self identity. The newly invigorated Jophur, as the traeki with the new master rings were called, quickly became a strong, vigorous force in the Five Galaxies.
According to various books in the series, most prominently the trilogy that followed the characters of Startide Rising, the Jophur quickly began a genocide and eradicated all but a small group of the original traeki, with the exception of a small "Sooner" group that settled on the planet Jijo in the fourth galaxy ("Sooner" is a term from USA history, and is used in the Uplift stories to described illegal settlers on worlds that have been declared fallow, i.e to be left uncolonized so that native intelligences may have a chance to develop). The Jophur became fanatical adherents of one of the galaxy's religious ideologies, and exterminated many races they regarded as "heretics" - including the g'Kek, which also survived only as a "Sooner" group on Jijo.