This is the first or second chapter to a story I was planning to write called Built to Subdue. I unfortunately lost interest and this is the only chapter that's been written for the main story. I might pick it back up again some day, but for now I'll just leave this here. Please enjoy.

She groaned, her vision blurry. What the hell happened? Her head felt like dead weight and her limbs felt like jello.

"Ah, good. She's waking up."

Ren moaned again in response, her head pounding like a jackhammer. She slowly brought her hand to her temple and began to massage, hoping that would ease the pain even a little while she slowly flipped onto her back.

"Miss Minamori?" the voice from earlier called.


"There are some things I'd like to discuss with you, Miss Minamori." The woman's voice was naturally sensuous, but dripped with venom. Lethally captivating.

"Give me a second," Ren spoke up, squinting her eyes in pain. "The world's still spinning." Not to mention her muscles ached like they did when she had gone through an abnormally strenuous workout. Which is odd, seeing as how I don't remember working out yesterday…

She remembered going grocery shopping in a particularly shady part of the city, then when she was about to straddle her bike, she heard a fight going on in the alleyway a couple buildings down. No, that's not quite right; it was more like eight gang members ganging up on one woman that already looked half beaten to death. Naturally she stepped in and, with some trouble, managed to either knock them out or drive them away. She used the woman's cell phone to call an ambulance and accompanied the woman in the back with the paramedics. The woman was taken into emergency care and after being assured that the older woman would be all right, Ren went back home.

She frowned. Great, I need to buy more groceries… wait! The rest is coming back to me now! A couple of hours after she arrived home, she was finishing patching up all of her bruises when four guys suddenly busted down her door! She put up a good fight, but then one of them pulled a gun out and threatened to shoot her if she didn't come quietly. She agreed and put her three-sectioned staff down, but the jerk-off holding the gun pistol-whipped her in the back of the head! Everything after that was blank.

Ren immediately sat up, glaring around the room, but her vision blurred once again and she almost blacked out again. Her teeth grit, So much for looking intimidating.

"Please take all the time you need," the voice chimed in again, patiently waiting.

After a couple second, Ren lowered her hand and she was finally able to see her surroundings. Where am I? She was sitting on the floor of what seemed to be someone's large study. The floor was polish hardwood with one large, well-worn carpet on the far half of the room under an assortment of seats and workspace. Packed bookshelves lined the walls and Ren absently wondered if someone actually read them, or if they were just part of the décor. The lights were dimmed to give the room a calming atmosphere and the ceiling-to-floor windowpanes revealed it was still the middle of the night. Unless a slept for a full day, in which case that would be embarrassing.

She turned back towards the door only to find a large, bald black man blocking the only way in an out of the room. She debated taking him on, but his height and sheer size of the man's muscles made her doubt she could take him head on (not to mention the gun hanging around his hip). A questioning brow slowly lifted from behind his sunglasses and she shifted her gaze to the other side of the room, greeted by the sight of two women.

The first one stood off to the side, a brunette with her hair pulled back into a ponytail and sapphire blue eyes that simply stared at Ren. Her face betrayed none of her thoughts, but her gaze was enough to make anyone uncomfortable, watching and unblinking. She was dressed in what looked to be a women's casual suit with trousers as opposed to the black man's casual outfit. However, what struck Ren the most was the fact that she couldn't have been a day over twenty, if that! Then why does she have the eyes of a seasoned warrior?

"I trust you're feeling better now?" The voice belonged to the final person in the room.

Ren's breath caught in her throat as her eyes fell upon a bright golden gaze. That color can't be natural, it just can't! But it was. That all-knowing predatorily gaze watched Ren in nothing short of amusement as the half-Japanese openly gawked; this woman reeked of self-confidence, a dangerous mixture of allure and enchantment that had lead many to their demise. The contrast of yellow and black in her eyes captured you and you weren't freed until she said so. Yes, she knew she had power, and she also knew how to use it.

Having had her fun, the woman leaned back in her plush chair from behind the desk, folding her fingers across her lap in a relaxed manner. "Is something wrong, Miss Minamori?" she asked, thoroughly amused. A small lock of slightly wavy back hair fell in front of her shoulder at the movement, drawing attention to her… wardrobe. Neither of her shoulders were covered, and her front exposed a generous amount of her chest area, just enough to keep people guessing, but just little enough to keep you wanting more. It also exposed part of a large, intricate tattoo that hooked over her right shoulder, a complex mixture of multi-colored scales (blacks, greens, gold and browns) that combined to form the body of a snake. Where the head and tail were located was anyone's guess.

"What?" Ren caught herself staring. Flustered, her face grew hot and she looked everywhere but the woman, "N-nothing! Nothing's wrong!" What the hell is wrong with me? She then suddenly recalled the previous night, and turned a dark glare back to who was obviously the leader of the group, "Unless you call assaulting and kidnapping me 'something wrong'."

"Well, when you put it like that, of course it sounds bad," the woman smirked.

"What other way is there to put it!" So they were working for her! Ren hardened her gaze, "Now tell me who you are and where the hell I am!" She couldn't shake the feeling that this woman was familiar…

The woman held up her hand to placate the foreign exchange student, a sign of peace, "All in due time, Miss Minamori. I cannot answer those questions without discussing another topic – the very topic you were brought here for, in fact. It's a matter of security, you see."

Ren raised a dubious brow but said nothing. She stood up and brushed off her clothes, the pockets of her pants still full. At least they didn't take any of my things. She readjusted her gi top so it fully covered her bound chest and turning back to the leader back to the leader, "What did you wish to discuss?"

The other smiled, "Straight to business then? Good, I'm starting to like you already." Ren remained silent. The leader adjusted her position behind the desk, crossing one leg over the other, "Last night you participated in a fight, eight men against one woman. I wanted to personally express my gratitude for saving her, she's very dear to me."

Ren shook her head, her boy cut, charcoal-black hair swishing as she did so, "There's no need to thank me, but you're welcome. I couldn't just walk by as something like that was happening right in front of my eyes."

An amused glint found its way into that unnaturally golden gaze, "You must be new in town." Her smile then turned fond, "Alright, I can trust you."


"You are to be my sister's new bodyguard."

"I politely decline." If it involves a bodyguard, it's obviously dangerous.

"And I just as equally politely refuse your declination. You have no choice in the matter."

At the sound of rustling clothes behind her, Ren turned to see the burly black man staring down at her with a hand placed on the holster of his gun. I'm being threatened into becoming a bodyguard!

"You'll be paid for your services of course," the leader continued. "There will be other benefits as well, such as meals and board. The details can be drawn out later."

"I don't think I'm, um, qualified for this type of position." Seeing the gun, Ren changed to a more diplomatic form of refusal.

The woman's brows rose, "Oh? You took out eight armed gang members on your own where the previously employed bodyguards could not take out even one." Ren vaguely recalled two guys in suits lying on the ground, unconscious. So that's who they were.

She smiled anxiously, "I might be a little trained in martial arts, but I doubt that would do any good in a gun fight. I'm not the right person for the job."

The leader chuckled, "That won't be a problem. In most cities, the fight is over territory, but in the city of Burlin, the whole battle is over gun trade. Whoever owns the guns owns the city." Her grin grew mischievous, "I currently own all of the underground gun market in this town, and lend a helping hand in all of the gun shops."

Ren silently gulped, suddenly getting a very good idea of to whom she was talking to. "Whatever happened to the last bodyguards?"

Those golden eyes darkened, a burning gaze of barely controlled fury, "Seeing as how they could not do their job, I fear they are no longer among us." A shiver ran down Ren's spine at the words and she suddenly felt like she was staring straight down the snout of a colossal, angry snake, biding its time until its next meal.

"B-b-but I'm merely a college student! A foreign exchange student at that! I'll be gone by the next semester!" The danger was now very tangible and very real. She needed to get out of here. Now.

"Yes, I recall that from your records." Mercifully, the woman turned her gaze to the woman next to her, who Ren almost forgot existed. She procured a manila folder from seemingly nowhere and handed it over to her boss.

"Thank you, Dominique." The leader opened the folder and started to read its contents: "Ren Minamori. Age – 24. Height – 5'2. Blood type – A. Born in Hokkaido, Japan, to one American Bryan Reynolds and one Japanese Misao Minamori. Approximately fifty years ago, your father, an anthropologist, traveled to the mountains of northern Japan and met your mother during his studies. They got married, your father taking your mother's influential name in martial arts, and they bore five children, four boys and one daughter, the youngest – you.

"You have the rank of a second dan black belt in mixed martial arts, which is quite impressive as opposed to the 'little bit of training' you claim it is," she added on, causing Ren to flinch. The woman looked at Ren from above the folder as she finished, "You're a foreign exchange student here in America, wishing to follow in your father's footsteps and study anthropology, correct?"

"That was the plan, yes," Ren replied, feeling defeated. She didn't know how long she was out, it couldn't have been more than a day, and it could have even been as little as two hours, but this group already had this much information on her and her family? Just who were they?

The leader placed the folder onto her desk, "There's no reason why you can't continue your course-work. I could even sign my sister up for some of the same classes. Lord knows she needs them…"


"Nothing," she brushed it off. "The only difference is that you might be staying in America a tad longer than you originally planned."

"And a few more fist-fights than I originally anticipated," Ren shot back pointedly.

The other raised a brow, "You make it sound like you're going to be brawling day in and day out. You must understand that my sister has a very little connection with my… group. In fact, the only tie is blood relation; she doesn't deal in any of the trade and fights because I don't allow it. Any trouble she gets into purposefully seeks her out. However, the fact that she does have blood ties makes her vulnerable to attacks and to be used as leverage. All you have to do is protect her from attackers, nothing more."

The student eyed the leader of this mysterious organization, "… That's all?"

"That's it." The answer came with a small smile, "The only difference in your life will be having a constant friend around."

Ren's frown furrowed, Yeah, a friend that constantly has mobs chasing after her. "And if I refuse?"

"Then your own family will get to experience what it's like to be used as leverage," the words floated from her mouth, smooth as silk but deadly as cyanide.

My family is all the way back in Japan! Surely she can't use them as a bargaining chip! Ren was about to bring this up, but she stopped herself, not wanting to chance it. Her family was the thing most precious to her in the world, and she didn't want to put them in danger. Besides, this woman seemed like the kind of person to go through with even her smallest threats. She sighed, her shoulders slumping, "All right."

"Great. You'll see your charge soon, though I suspect you two have already met." A timely knock wrapped on the door. "And I suspect that's her. Let her in, Dante."

Dante nodded and stepped side, opening the door for the new arrival. In stepped… the half-conscious woman from the fight! She looked the same as before, except she was covered in patched-up bruises and wearing a clean set of clothes. "You wanted to see me, sis?" she asked chirpily. Even the large patch on her left cheek was unable to take away from her bright smile and equally cheerful brown eyes.

That's why the leader seemed familiar! She was sisters with the woman from last night! Ren paused in her scrutiny before mentally face-palming, In hindsight that should have been obvious. While the two didn't look exactly the same, but the resemblance was definitely there.

Finally noticed Ren, the newcomer turned to her with a large grin, "Hey! You're the boy from last night! Thanks a lot!"

"I'm a woman," she answered in turn, used to being mistaken for a guy. She was slightly boyish in appearance and voice and had barely any chest to speak. The only reason others could tell she was a girl was by her slender build and shoulders, but even then she was often told she looked like a girlish boy.

"Eh?" the taller of the two blinked, "But doesn't your first name start with 'Ray'? That's a boy's name."

Ren simply stared. She can't seriously be this stupid.

Almost as if reading her thoughts, the older sister chimed in from the desk, "Yes she can seriously be that stupid."

"Let's see…" The younger sister walked over to Ren and casually pulled on the band of her pants and peered inside.

Ren gave a startled, strained cry and pushed the other woman away. She clung to her pants protectively, "What the hell are you doing?!" she all but yelled, her face aflame.

"Checking to see if you're a girl."

"I just told you I'm a girl!"

The leader cut in smoothly, "Alex, this is your new bodyguard, Ren Manimori. I told you about her before. You are to attend college with her and stay by her side until further notice."

Alex beamed before turning to Ren, "Hey there! Seems we're going to be together for a while! Nice to meet 'cha!" She held out her hand.

Ren shook the offered hand, raising a dubious brow, "Likewise…" She then yelped when she was pulled into a spontaneous hug.

Alex laughed giddily, "My new bodyguard is so cute and tiny!"

C-cute? Ren fumbled, her cheeks growing red, "D-don't huge me!" She tried to push away, but to no avail. "And I'm not short, you're just tall!" Alex seemed to be around the 5'10 area, if Ren had to guess.

"Alex," the older of the sisters called, effectively stopping the other. She had an amused smile on her face at she stared at the spectacle, "At least wait until after introductions are done."

"Oh, yeah!" Alex backed off and cleared her throat, "My name's Alexandria Mancini -it's Italian!- and I'm the younger but taller of the two Mancini sisters," she added, unable to help taking a jab at the other. She finished with a cheeky grin, "But you can call me Alex!"

She then turned to the man by the door, "That's Dante Fitzgerald. He's really nice and knows where all the best places to eat in the city are!" Ren nodded her head in greeting, thinking that Dante didn't look so menacing when he smiled like he was now. This brought a smile to her own face as Alex continued the introductions.

"Right next to my sister is Dominique Ramón. She's my sister's protégée and really good with knives! She might seem all serious, but that's just how she normally is. In fact, Nikki kind of looks bored right now," she laughed.

That's her bored face? Dominique nodded her head in greeting and Ren repaid in kind.

"There's another person usually hanging around with Nikki, but I guess she's out on an assignment?" Alex looked to her older sibling, who confirmed. "Yeah, you'll have to meet her later then. But until then, this is my sister, Gabriella Mancini, head of the Mancini Mafia family!" She grinned, "If 'Donna Gabriella' doesn't sound familiar, that might be because she's better known as 'Dragon'! Ring a bell?"

Ren wasn't paying attention though. Dragon? she thought, suddenly experiencing an epiphany. That's what the feeling was before. It wasn't as if I was staring down a huge snake, it was as if I was as if I was looking up the long muzzle of a giant black dragon biding time until its next meal! She shivered as she recalled the petrifying feeling, Is this what all of her enemies feel when they confront her? What must it feel like then, when she's on the attack? Staring up into those eyes from the hot end of a barrel? Ren knew one thing for certain, she did not want to get in Dragon's bad side.

When she didn't get an answer, Alex turned to Dragon, "Hey, show her that cool thing you do with the smoke- huh?" She frowned, "Hey, where's your cigar? Can you do the cool smoke thing without your cigar?"

Dragon chuckled, "Maybe next time."

The mafia. I'm working for the mafia now. Ren's head was spinning. She needed to sit down. I mean, I realized they were organized crime, but I didn't think they were the Mafioso! She looked up to the Heavens, Amida Buddha, please watch over me.