While Jake and the Automata Legion had their discussion, Vesperia got the chance to have a talk with her fellow True Royal.

“I hope I am not overstepping by wanting a more private conversation,” the True Royal Hive Queen reached out to her.

Vesperia naturally took no offense to a sister of hers taking such liberty, and she found it only proper to show respect towards one of superior power and position to herself. They may both be True Royals, but the one before her was a leader of the Endless Empire. She felt that instantly.

”I greet the Odonstrom Hive Queen, and I am honored you came here personally,” Vesperia answered.

“Please, just call me Odonestra,” the other True Royal answered. “And excuse me if I am a bit too emotional. Vesperia is a name I had not heard in many eras. I still remember the first Vespernat Hive Queen, and it feels like we lost her just a few years ago. You look just like her.”

“I, too, remember you all, though not very vividly. The inherited memories are all very blurry, which is part of the reason I wish to return to the Endless Empire. I have much to learn,” Vesperia answered, sending some positive emotions through the link.

“That is good,” Odonestra said. “I must ask… I noticed that you also seem to have some innate resistance to auras? If not near-immunity?”

True Royals had inborn resistance to auras, the same as any other high-level talent. However, True Royals were still a bit different. All True Royals had immunity towards the presences of other ectognas, including other True Royals, but they were still hit like any other creature in the multiverse by the auras of other races. So for Vesperia to remain unaffected while in the room was indeed out of the ordinary.

“A trait I inherited from the Records given to me by my sire,”Vesperia clarified to the True Royal.

“You keep referring to him as your sire. If you could, would you give me some insight as to the exact nature of your relationship with the Chosen of the Malefic Viper? Could you clarify your emotions towards the human?” Odonestra asked.

Vesperia wouldn’t say she was taken aback by the question, but she still had to collect her thoughts to properly formulate a satisfying answer.

Her emotions were hard to adequately put into words. What exactly was Jake to her? She called him Sire, yes, but she didn’t truly view him as a father. Neither did she view him with the reverence many races created by gods had towards their maker. No, it was odd to explain. All she knew was that he was family.

Sandy, the Chosen of the Lord Protector and the Boundless Hydra, had given Vesperia some great insight. Sandy hadn’t been made but led towards their current Path by Jake and had a similar feeling to herself, albeit not as powerful. They both viewed Jake as someone important to them, despite there not truly being anything making it as such. Usually, a connection through Records would be there when one was a creator and the other their creation. Similar to the one between a father and their children. Such a bond was just not there. Nothing stopped them from simply cutting him off and walking away. No karmic repercussions or negative impacts on their Paths would occur.

Oddly enough, this knowledge was not a comfort to Vesperia. No, it was a genuine fear. Because this lack of connection went both ways. While she could simply leave at any moment and never look back, so could Jake. From the looks of it, he would only lose some invested Records during her creation, but the mere act of creating a True Royal had likely resulted in a net positive already. So… would he one day decide he didn’t care about her anymore? Despite it not being something she should feel, Vesperia felt hollow just from the thought. Despite being a True Royal who would soon be surrounded by more family than nearly any other creature in the multiverse, the thought made her feel alone.

This is where Sandy had given Vesperia insight. Perhaps from having spent longer time with Jake than Vesperia herself, or maybe just because the Cosmic Genesis Worm was a better judge of character, but they seemed to have a great understanding of their shared Sire – though that was not a term Sandy used.

“Jake is Jake, same as Sandy is Sandy. Trying to say Jake needs to be like a worm just wouldn’t make sense, right? So why do you want Jake to be like another True Royal or whatever it is? Why do you need to have some special thing to call him when you already got Jake? Isn’t that why people got names? Jake is Jake to you, and you are Vesperia to Jake. Same as I am Sandy to both of you. Nothing is ever gonna change that. He will always be Jake, and you will always be Vesperia, so stop worrying.”

The words of the Lord Protector’s Chosen appeared simple but were profound in their own right. Perhaps Vesperia had been too stuck on labels all along. She didn’t need a comparison when she already knew what he was to her.

“He is Jake, my sire, and my family,” Vesperia simply answered with a smile. “And that will always be so.”

“I want to clarify… where do your loyalties lie? With the Order and the Chosen, or the Endless Empire?”Odonestra asked, her tone slightly worried.

“While I do not think those mutually exclusive, my loyalties lie with the hive, now and forever. All I am saying is that Jake is part of my hive, and that shall never change either,”Vesperia tried to clarify. “But if a war was to occur between him and the Endless Empire… I cannot answer what I would do. Just know it is not the Order or the Malefic One I hold a sentiment towards, but only my sire.”

“Hm, very well,” Odonestra said, though Vesperia was not entirely confident she was satisfied with the answer. “Thank you for the insight. I look forward to showing you how our home has grown, sister.”

“So do I,” Vesperia wholeheartedly agreed as they directed the conversation in a more casual direction and refocused some of their attention on the room that now at least didn’t have those accursed automata in it.

Jake felt the eyes of the three-eyed dragonfly Hive Queen land on him quite a few times during what Jake suspected was a telepathic talk. Seeing as Vesperia also threw him some glances, he was certain they were talking about him. Rather than desperately attempting to figure out what they were saying, he turned his attention to the United Tribes.

“I must admit, I was surprised when I heard the United Tribes also wanted to be part of this private meeting,” Jake said. Okay, he wasn’t really surprised as he didn’t know much about the faction, but he just wanted to at least talk about something. Inspecting the spaceship more closely was also an option, but that would probably be considered rude. Also, the room was too small to make the thing big.

“While I will admit this ability of yours isn’t as meaningful to the United Tribes as it is for the Endless Empire, we would still find ourselves amiss if we did not at least try to establish contact and learn more,” the phoenix goddess smiled. “Now, seeing as the Automate Legion already handed their gift and left, let us not be rude and also give ours.”

She looked at one of the other gods with her as he nodded and took out a lockbox.

“Giving the Chosen a gift is a difficult prospect, especially as we were made aware you are not interested in the acquisition of slaves or expansion of your territory, so I hope our rather unconventional approach will be acceptable. Rather than merely gifting you something, we wish to instead give a gift to your companion for Nevermore, the Sylphian Hawk. Something we hope can prove useful to her,” the bird lady said with a smile.

Jake was not at all against that idea. “I am sure she will appreciate that, and so do I.”

The phoenix goddess nodded, and the male bear man handed him the lockbox.

“I would advise you against opening the box before the beast that wishes to consume it is ready,” the woman said. “What is within is one of my feathers, crafted specifically for your companion.”

“What does it do?” Jake asked curiously.

“She will slowly be able to absorb it, and it will give her beneficial Records. And… should she find herself slain before the feather is fully absorbed, it shall expend the rest of its energy to give her a second chance,” the goddess said with a smile.

“Very phoenix-like,” Jake nodded, getting a few weird stares from the two other gods with her, as Jake realized he was perhaps a bit too casual. He collected himself and stored the box away. “I thank the United Tribes.”

“There is also one other matter. Feeling inspired by the initiative of the Golden Road Emporium, would you be willing to allow individuals from the United Tribes to enter your land? Not as slaves, but as a semi-independent force that will naturally operate under all the rules of your world,” the phoenix goddess said. “These will be talents of the ninety-third universe and will be able to assist you and any potential beast allies you may have while at the same time allowing you to contact us through them.”

“I am a bit surprised the United Tribes didn’t already have at least a few people on my planet already,” Jake said, surprised.

“We focus on planets occupied by beastfolk, and while the Tribes do have many pure beasts such as I among their ranks, we try to avoid Blessing beasts on planets occupied by enlightened races,” the woman explained.

“Hm, fair,” Jake nodded. Then again, he didn’t remember encountering that many blessed beasts. There were the Hive Queens and the Sky Whale, but the Sky Whale was because of Karroch, and the ectogna wasn’t really a beast.

“Well, I can’t say I would be opposed to it,” Jake shrugged. Villy also didn’t seem to think it a problem either, so he saw no good reason to reject it. Besides, if he could get people who knew more about making nice stuff for beasts, Sylphie would be happy, and he could maybe even help Hawkie and Mystie out. Sandy, he wasn’t worried about… worst-case, that damn glutton would just eat the moon or something.

“Great,” the phoenix goddess said. “Who shall we contact to organize these matters?”

“Just contact the Order, and they should promptly connect you to her,” Jake said, only feeling a little bad about giving Miranda even more work.

The phoenix goddess nodded once more. “With that, I do not believe we have anything more to discuss. I would ask you to consider bringing one of the young candidates we brought along with you to Nevermore, but seeing your current party members, I do not believe that feasible.”

The god stood up, and all three bowed towards Jake and the Viper. “We thank the Malefic One and you, Lord Thayne, for humoring us and allowing us to join the discussion. May fortune be in your future, to both of you.”

With those words, the United Tribes also left, leaving Jake to question why she had said any of their members joining his party wasn’t feasible.

What were those three up to back in the big meeting hall?

Oh well, he would find out once he got back to check things out. The only ones who remained left in the meeting were Vesperia, Jake, Villy, and the three from the Endless Empire, so it shouldn’t be that long.

“The Endless Empire also does not have much more to discuss, and I have already had a personal talk with Vesperia about our plans moving forward,” the dragonfly Hive Queen said as she regarded Jake. “I also want to finally properly introduce myself to you, Lord Thayne. I am known as Odonestra and have the rank of Grand Hive Queen within the Endless Empire, which is the same title Vesperia here will soon hold.”

You go, Vesperia! Jake cheered her on internally. Cool titles were always cool, even if he wasn’t one hundred percent on what it meant.

“However, the unique bond between you and Vesperia does make the entire situation a bit awkward, and while there is no true precedence, I would like to extend you the title of honorary member of the Endless Empire. A title that will hold no responsibilities, but if you wish to ever visit, will grant you the same status as a True Royal,” Odonestra offered.

Jake did a quick check-in with Villy and got a mental thumbs-up, making him agree.

“I see no reason to reject that,” Jake said, admittedly not entirely comprehending what that meant either.

“That pleases us to hear,” the three-eyed True Royal smiled. “As for a true material gift, I must admit we have been struggling on this front. The Endless Empire primarily cultivates unique treasures for ectognamorphs, and anything we can truly offer you is something the Order could do better if they so desired. Am I also correct to assume you have no interest in a private bodyguard? We are more than willing to dedicate a Godqueen to your personal protection for the rest of your life.”

“Yeah, no thanks,” Jake quickly rejected. That sounded horrible. What if this bodyguard thought Jake was about to die while in a fight and jumped in to save him? That would totally be cheating and ruin the spirit of battle. There was a reason he didn’t even want Villy to resurrect him if he died. As for if any high-level individual or even god wanted to assassinate him… well, he had a Primordial with a constant livesteam going.

“You also are not keen on slaves… do you also consider drones slaves? If a Hive Queen settled in or around your planet, we would be able to provide constant support and a near-endless supply of workers.”

“I already had my fair share of issues with Hive Queens on my home planet. Oh, on that note, I am not sure if I should apologize or not, but I killed a mid-tier C-grade Isoptera Hive Queen who was blessed by the Fourth Desert Queen, and that act triggered some response to try and brand me a heretic?” Jake asked, remembering the incident.

“Truly? I must apologize, and I shall bring it up with her for sure. Would you like these ectognas off your planet?” she asked rather casually.

“They will be taken care of eventually, and I don’t need you to take any actions,” Jake waved her off. He had a strong feeling that if he said yes, then in the very next moment, she would inform him that every single ectogna blessed by the Fourth Desert Queen in the new universe was dead. That would be a waste of a good grinding spot.

“Very well. Rather than try and think up something we have to offer, are there any things you desire? We will do whatever we can to fulfill your wish,” Odonestra offered.

Jake thought for a second before he looked at the Hive Queen still sitting next to him.

“Promise to take good care of Vesperia and get me something so we can stay in touch,” Jake said with a smile.

Odonestra did a double-take. “We… already planned on securing a way to establish contact, and naturally, Vesperia will want for nothing.”

“Then we are good,” Jake nodded. He truly didn’t know what he could want of them. Sure, he could always get more alchemy stuff, but he didn’t need it.

“Are you sure?” Odonestra did a triple-take.

“Yes,” Jake said in no uncertain terms.

Vesperia beside him tried to look stoic, but he still saw her smile a bit.

“… Very well,” the True Royal goddess finally nodded. Waving her hand, she took out what looked like a small golden plate and telekinetically floated it toward Jake. “This is a token specifically crafted for you, and I would hope for you to Soulbind it as soon as possible for safety reasons. A paired token will be given to Vesperia, and you two will be able to communicate through it. The token is also what signifies your status to the Endless Empire, and you can show it to any ectognamorph, even in your own universe, and they should show you respect if they are from a Lineage part of the Empire.”

Jake caught the token and nodded. “Thanks. Will it work in Nevermore?”

“Sadly, no, the dungeon is cut off,” the Hive Queen shook her head.

“Alright,” Jake said.

A few seconds passed before Odonestra spoke again. “I believe it is time for us to take our leave and return home.”

She looked at Vesperia, and she nodded as she stood up. Jake also stood up, with only the Viper remaining seated.

“Nice having you visit,” the Viper smiled at the three True Royals.

“We thank the Malefic One for allowing us to,” Odonestra nodded at him. She then looked at Vesperia again.

Jake still stood next to Vesperia, and she looked to hesitate a bit with joining her fellow True Royals. She turned and looked at Jake, making him smile.

“Oh, come here,” he said as Vesperia unprompted lowed herself so Jake could hug her. The far larger woman returned the hug and lowered herself even further. Jake failed to hide a grin as he patted her head, making Vesperia close her eyes as her antennas seemed to vibrate.

“You take care, okay?” Jake said.

“Okay,” Vesperia said.

They stayed like that a bit longer until it got too awkward, and he slowly let her go. They exchanged a glance as Vesperia walked over to her fellow True Royals, who looked at her and Jake a bit oddly.

“I thank you once more, Sire, and I will repay the favor you have shown me one day,” Vesperia said as she turned and gave him a deep bow.

“You have nothing to thank me for,” Jake shook his head. “But if you truly want to repay the favor… just be happy and do well. Oh, and call me once in a while because I will probably forget.”

Vesperia nodded, and no more words were exchanged as the four True Royals disappeared and began their journey back to the Endless Empire.

Villy, still sitting in his chair, let out a deep sigh. “They fly from the nest so young, don’t they?”

“She teleported,” Jake said with a deadpan expression.

The Viper sighed even deeper. “They teleport from the nest so young, don’t they?”