Her hair was pulled back and up off her neck in brown waves and clipped finally with a scarlet red plumeria clip. As she walked across the dirt pathway, her long maroon skirts swayed gracefully in tune with her skilled dancers' gait. If one did not know her, they would assume she would break into a choreographed hip swaying number at any moment. However, it had been two years since Maile had stopped her dance classes and had been chosen to enter the world of the night. Her Hawaiian dancing could now be frightening to humans as her body could move as never before. She enjoyed the freedom and, if honest with herself, their fear as well.

Her life had been peaceful and uncomplicated and it had been her steadiness, grace and quiet resoluteness that had drawn the majestically Arabian woman to her. It had been just after her last performance that the woman had approached her. In an aloha dress, the woman had appeared to Maile as a tourist and she had turned on the expected charm as was part of her job. The other woman had smiled graciously and put one hand up in the air to pause her. It was then that Maile realized how pale the woman's skin was in the warm night's air. She couldn't be a tourist. They all came here with varying degrees of tans and burns throughout their Hawaiian vacations. When the woman motioned for Maile to join her in her box seat, all Maile could do was swish to the table in her grass skirt.

It was then that Maile was introduced to the vampire world. The woman's name was Shirna and turned out to be much older than she first thought. Shirna gave her a choice that night and it was one she did not yet regret. As queen of the vampires in this world that was now aware of the creatures, Shirna needed other vampires to work with her and to be places for her when she was busy with other matters. She was offering Maile a job, to be her assistant. She would be one of four such vampires who travelled to the various regions to check on their kind and to remind them the queen was watching. Now more than ever, this was vital with the public surfacing of their kind. As such, she needed to add one to her current staff of three. Maile was her choice.

Maile had been stunned but somehow, inside her, she knew she would do it. It seemed that Shirna knew this as well and it had been part of why she picked her. Hey had gotten her the traditional tattoo that night to mark her as the queen's and then Maile had died.

Now, the young woman had lived on for two more years and not aged even a little. She had come with Shirna to the mainland and had travelled by her side and on her own across the world. Tonight, her duties had taken her to the deep south. Region 5 encompassed a great section of southern states and had seen more than its share of disturbances in the last six months. From murders being blamed on vampires to drainings and kidnappings and a nest being burned down, the Region was not under control. This tribunal meeting she was approaching further proved the Region's straying from her queen's demands. Thus, Maile was sent.

Having been made by one so old and powerful as the queen, Maile's senses were advanced and she could feel the emotions even from the crowd of pale vampires. In the dark junkyard, anger, impatience and disgust were strong in this group as they were gathered, taunting the kneeling vampire in the clearing. Before him sat the leader of Eastern American vampires, who was one step up from Region leader. The man was pasty with ugly spiked hair. Maile had dealt with him only once before and had found him extremely distasteful.

As she approached, the male vampire's words reached her sensitive ears. "You killed a higher being to protect your pet!" The disgust and hate were evident in his voice. "We sentence you to five years…chained in silver."

The crowd erupted in support and Maile, now standing on the edge of the clearing mystically calm, shook her head in disappointment. Naïve and vengeful, this tribunal was displacing their pent up anger onto this one loyal vampire who served his queen well. He was why her queen had sent her here, well, he was part of the reason at least.

No one sensed the elegant Hawaiian vampire as she quietly observed the tribunal's proceedings. That was part of her gifts from the queen in making her. She could be more invisible than other vampires and could be undetected when she so desired. She did so now so as to not influence the meeting. She would wait to see if the committee would resolve this issue correctly themselves first. She doubted that they would and she knew her queen felt the same. It was imperative that this loyal vampire not be imprisoned.

She knew others would wonder why this vampire was so important, why he alone could accomplish the necessary task. The answer was simple and timeless. Destiny. No one else would be allowed or able to do what he must do simply because he was the one destined to do it.

The vampire in the clearing was pleading his case, claiming the public's anguish had the girl died at the hands of the vampire Long Shadow. He played to the logic and steered clear of the true reasons, both duty and emotion, for his murder of the other vampire. Maile knew that though Bill was attempting to play the game well, these vampires were, in a manner of speaking, out for blood. This would not do and as twin minion vampires came to Bill's side to pull him up and to his sentence.

A smirking Eric and Pam stood a few feet away with a newly employed Chow expressionless behind them. Eric's jealousy and desires had led him to this but wisdom does not always come with age, Maile knew. She and Bill both possessed wisdom graciously bestowed upon them though they were younger than Eric. Without wisdom, vampires were inclined toward mischief.

The crowd grew silent and more pale if possible as she stepped into the clearing essentially unveiled. She could see the anger in both Eric and the tribunal leader's faces but ignored it. It was nothing to her. Too much depended on Bill's success to fret over a few vampires' hurt feelings. She paused before the twins and waved them away gracefully. They moved, as if entranced but without needing to be. Maile took a scarf from around her waist and pulled off the silver chains binding Bill. His eyes bore warnings of the crowd's possible retaliation but she just smiled lightly and almost imperceptibly shook her head.

She turned so she could face both the crowd and the leaders present. "An edict from the queen forbids your chosen actions here. While she agrees that when one of us murders another, the act must be punished, she finds wisdom in this Bill's decisions. Wisdom is lacking here tonight as you put your desire for vengeance above your instincts for survival. Is that not our first and foremost will? And you now turn away from it to punish one of your own. For the record, Long Shadow's betrayal of his own kind ran deeper than you will ever know. While Bill is unaware of this, his instincts were true in the avoidance of yet another human death. Especially this one, that could have easily been traced back to our kind.

The leader had now gathered his wits and was no longer lounging in his chair. Now he stood, fists curled by his sides, as if ready to pounce and barely restraining himself from doing so. How could this new born vampire interrupt them? How could she be so strong and so young and so demanding? He didn't care that she was the queen's. He wanted to punish Bill as he deserved. The vampire had killed on of their own and they could all feel it. It boiled their blood and amplified their violent natures. It wasn't concern for the destroyed vampire that held them here, but rather, outrage. Outrage for Bill's actions, for if he would kill one, would he be willing to kill others? And outrage that their after lives had come to this, worrying about human laws and keeping the peace. While certain luxuries now available were appreciated, the price remained somewhat high and, as in any society's revolution, some were becoming restless and angry at treading lightly.

Joseph, the tribunal leader, interrupted Maile. "That vampire is a prisoner now. No edict of the queen can change that. We will fight for this." The crowd erupted loudly agreeing with the man.

Maile shook her head but was not disturbed. "The queen understands this and has prepared a compromise. She will give you those responsible for the fire, killing our brothers and sister in exchange for clearing Bill's charges. Her only stipulations are that the act appears to be an accident and takes place away from the human's city of residence. This will not be difficult as the queen can arrange it but she leaves the punishment to you and Eric to decide."

Joseph and Eric looked at one another. They had not expected this at all. The queen was not one to freely distribute such gifts or good will. She was practical and believed in the integration with humans but was also harsh, unyielding and, in the end, truly the most violent of them all. Though he was angry for his tribunal not going his way and he was concerned about his suspicions at the queen's motives, he knew he could not turn the offer down. Not here, in front of the gathered crowd. Not now, when exacting vengeance needed to look like an accident but still meant the same to all who heard of it. The opportunity outweighed their decision on Bill.

"I accept and I release Bill into your custody for the queen's purposes."

Maile gave a small nod and led Bill from the clearing. She ignored the stares and uncertainty from the crowd. She was un findable and stronger than most there anyway. A queen's blood will do that to you.

"Are you sure that was wise?" A healing Bill grunted at her. They had both worked for the queen long enough thought to understand what a bold gesture from her meant. There would be no room for argument. The situation was too risky, too important and those involved too volatile.

Bill silently followed Maile to her 350Z parked several blocks from the tribunal's setting. Massaging his wrists, he noticed the red welts fast becoming pinks and whites on his pale skin. Too quickly, the marks of transgression and devotion would be gone. He knew the night was old now and dawn would be upon them in a few short hours. No time to return home or to Sookie that evening. He hoped Sam grasped his full request in protecting Sookie. As a human, Sam would be a formidable opponent to another human, but as the other worldly creature Bill sensed him to be, there was much more Sam could do to ensure his lover's safety. He just trusted the man would not do anything to take advantage of the situation. He shook his head and smirked. Sookie wouldn't let him. It was a moot point. The girl would fight tooth and nail just for the opportunity to fend for herself. He just wished he was able to convey his safety and concern for her before the night would end. He had slipped his phone into Sookie's pocket as he left the parking lot so that Eric could not take it. Then Eric would have had direct access to Sookie, which would not have been good for any of them.

Maile sensed Bill's hesitations and looked over at him s they both eased their way into her two seater. She started her car and pulled out from her parking spot with grace as only a vampire could and only in such a car. The smooth sounds island music gently and quietly played in the background as she pulled them onto the deserted highway,

"We must return to the queen tonight. It must be as she has asked. You know this Bill. There will be time for other things. There is always time."

Bill understood her words but was still anxious. "There is not always time. I have left Sookie in the care of another but there is no guarantee she will be safe if I am not there. I must return to her." His voice betrayed more than loyalty to his queen and Maile knew then why this vampire was so unique amongst them all. The low tones told of his feelings for the girl and showed an emotion she'd never heard of from a vampire to a human. She herself had never felt such care for humans since turning. They were beneath her thought still significant to the big world picture. Her innate cruelty could be seen even in her own human interactions at times. The queen, even in her wisdom, age and patience, she knew had never felt love for a human of any kind. Though she'd traced her ancestors for thousands of years, she did so out of curiosity and an egotistical sense of self preservation rather than any kind of love. Surely the queen sensed this vampire's capacity to love and knew it was what was needed and called for.

"She will be safe tonight. Now we regroup and continue. Hesitance and argument will only further Sookie's endangerment. The sooner these pieces can be put together, the sooner her life will truly be safe. She is not far from here now, at a vampire hotel nearby. She knows we are coming. Though tonight will leave only time to hide from the day, tomorrow will bring satisfaction to your longing for answers and for returning to your Sookie."

Bill understood both her reassurances and the warning hidden within them. Reluctantly, he sat back in his seat and watched the terrain fly by outside the window as the car sped through the night. He hadn't felt anything troubling from Sookie but that only eased his worried mind a little. He wondered if he'd make it to Arlene's engagement party tomorrow night. Though it seemed trivial, he knew it would be important.

Tomorrow would tell.