The medusae (Medusa phiala xenos) are minor xeno species holding some worlds in the Crazed Core and are a constant annoyance to human settlements in the area. The medusae are a relatively young xeno species, having only discovered faster-than-light travel in the 2600s but are nonetheless mildly threatening to human groups that do not have access to proper orbital defense. The medusa are unique in that they developed alongside another sapient species, the campacti
As their name implies, the medusae are a jellyfish-esque species that float among the humid clouds of their homeworld's atmosphere. The medusa homeworld is much warmer than Earth, with frequent hurricanes and monsoons drenching the lowlands. While the medusa developed in the high atmosphere, the campacti developed in the lowlands. Each medusa has four arms, each with hands capable of manipulating tools. Medusae have a cartilage-based skeletal system and sticky, translucent skin. Their skin is brightly colored and sometimes painted, although because their vision is closer to the violets than those of humans they only appear to be shades of pink, purple and blue to humans. Due to the high-pressure nature of their homeworld’s atmosphere, medusae float through the skies like the fish of Earth. They propel themselves across the atmosphere with dorsal air bladders, which fire gas at high speeds.
The medusa are a scavenger species, feeding on the carrion and rotting fruit of their homeword. It is said they became intelligent because of the need to find food in hard to reach places. This has had an effect on medusa psychology, which is defined by a profound kleptomania. Medusae find the prospect of immediate material gain almost impossible to resist, making them easy to bribe or fool. The medusa did not develop their technology themselves, instead stealing most of it from the campacti. However, the medusa did perfect aerospace technology, which the campacti could not because of the lowlands' inclement weather.
Most of medusa society is organized largely in a way that would be best described as absolute monarchy in human terms. One family of medusa rules over the others; often a state religion is based on this family, often being one with the stars. However, while these developments were set in place to give some semblance of order, it is not always successful. Medusa governments are often overthrown, with the old royal families slaughtered and even ritualistically eaten as a sign of dominance. Warfare between medusa groups is common and wars with the medusa are easy to start but hard to stop. While most wars involving the medusa have to do with resources, some wars start for sociological reasons not readily apparent to mankind.
The medusa relationship with the campacti is one of near constant hostility. The medusa dined on campacti corpses whenever they could find them, while the campacti hunted the medusa whenever they had the opportunity. This has turned the campacti into an eternal, almost demonic, foe, as far as medusa culture is concerned, one that is simultaneously inferior and dangerous. Medusa religions tend to describe the campacti as having been created from leftovers, the creation of a trickster or malevolent deity. To eat campacti flesh is the ultimate sign of defeating this eternal enemy and most medusa heroes are shown defeating and dining on his campacti foes.
The development of a more secular, technological society has not squashed this rivalry and the campacti are frequently the target of attacks. With their dominance of the skies, the medusa became the dominant species on their homeworld. Most campacti were reduced to slaves operating massive machines that their medusa masters did not even understand. Most modern medusa societies have a large campacti slave caste that outnumbers the medusa population, and campacti flesh is still widely traded as a delicacy. However, this master-slave relationship is far more symbiotic than comparable human examples, as the campacti are allowed to breed and dine on medusa, normally those who do not have favor with the current leadership.