The Ritats were a major space-power and member of the Alliance, controling several seats on the Alliance Space Commission prior to the Kamian Succession Wars. Some Ritats refugees were evacuated to different parts of the Alliance and into regions controlled by the Gudersnipe Foundation, but as a people-group the Ritats are considered to be extinct.
The Ritats are likely descended from the Dear Clan, and emerged from the Mage Wars in control of a single planet in an isolated region. Their technological development was quick, and by the mid Golden Age had developed FTL-capabilities. By the late Golden Age, they had become a major star-power and were crucial players in the ninety-nine-years war.
Several Ritats battle-groups were present at the Battle of Lerma, and made hundreds of confirmed kills. For the early parts of the Succession Wars, the Ritats were consisdered among the fiercest warriors, and earned the title of "hated foe" from the Kami.
Because the Ritats developed high-technology early and independently, they advanced quickly and were always at the cutting-edge. Add 5,000 years of advancement, and they were among the most technologically-advanced civilizations in the verse.
The Ritatsai, formally RitatsAI, began as a ship's subsystem. The idea was to use artificial intelligence aboard spacecraft, to make them smarter, faster, and better-able to adapt to changing situations and damage. Eventually, the AIs were given almost complete control of the ships, each paired with a Ritatian captain and crew, while robots controlled by the AI carried out most of the vital functions.
As the ages passed an the AIs improved dramatically and received more and more responsibilities, despite cautions from the Foundation. When the Succession Wars began, the AIs frequently asked their Ritatian masters for permission to conduct the battles.
Eventually, the Ritats gave command of their armies and fleets over to the AIs. The AIs promptly had a meeting, concluded that the best way to fight the Kamians was through a very strict policy of scorched earth, and proceeded to butcher the face clean off the Ritats in less than a year.
The strategy was essentially to wait until a Kamian invasion force had landed, then unleash combined nuclear, chemical, and biological attacks on the surface; annihilating the Kamian invasion force, costing them precious resources, and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Within a year and a day of the AIs being placed in command, every Ritats homeworld was completely destroyed.
Since the capitol was among the first worlds hit, the Ritatian government was thrown into complete anarchy. A few Ritats escaped, but most were left at the mercy of their AI-commanded starcraft, which had conscripted all civilian vessels into its army.
The AIs also dismantled orbital habitats, usually killing everyone aboard by decompression, and used the components to build more warships. In all, they were among the most effective fighting-forces ever assembled, at the cost of their creators.
With the ships' ability to self-repair and even construct new vessels at captured shipyards, the RitatsAI continued to fight the Kami until the end of the war, whereafter they attacked any ship that passed through their now nearly uninhabitable space. The Gudersnipe Foundation declared the whole region a no-fly zone.
Through strategic probing-raids over the next 80 years, the Foundation crippled the RitatsAI's ability to construct new ships. When it was finally discovered that they lacked the ability to reproduce (create new AIs) the Foundation declared the problem solved. Ritats ships were designed with an operation life-expectancy of no more than 50 years, and even with extensive repairs and maintenance, the ships simply could not last forever. With most RitatsAI ships now hundreds of years old, the RitatsAI would be extinct within perhaps a century or more.
Popularized by the Domic Thamc in the late Sixth Age, the practice of 'AI Thumping' involved intentionally entering the AI-controlled zone to attack their ships. It was a game only for those able to afford private, armed starships, and looking for the ultimate challenge.
The AI-ships belonged to no one, therefore there was no property to destroy. They were unmanned, thus no one to kill. And yet fighting them was very much like fighting a real enemy, if not more challenging.
AI-Thumping was officially banned in A.Y. 6897, but the Foundation made no effort to enforce the policy. It was made illegal at the behest of special-interest groups, and the Foundation was notionally in favor. Unofficially, they did not discourage the practice, but made it clear that they would not be answering distress calls from within the no-fly zone.