The self-made millionaire Adriana Imai came from a humble home in Fortaleza, Brazil. Her father, Seita, moved to Brazil as a young man, hoping to see a side of the world completely different than his hometown in Hokkaido. A talented illustrator, he spent his spare time designing colorful characters and worlds.
While sketching patrons of a local jazz club, he was approached by Belinda, the owner, to work on a logo. What began as a business partnership soon became a romantic one, and within a couple of years, Adriana was born.
Adriana excelled in all facets of education. A house full of art and music honed a brilliant mind, and her intelligence was only exceeded by her obsessive drive to be the best. While scoring at the top of every class, she was often on the receiving end of disciplinary action due to her overly competitive, and sometimes violent, nature during schoolyard games.
Adriana's mother did her best to keep her on the right track, but her father was increasingly absent as his own obsessive drive ramped up: Adi Valente, a manga about a young girl who saves and protects the weak with her quirky robot companion. Despite working long hours at a canning facility and writing his manga in his spare time, he somehow managed a little time every night to share his wild and highly imaginative illustrations with his daughter.
By middle school, Adriana was courted by a fancy private school due to her high performance, and, needing money, Seita spoke to publishers about his unpublished manuscripts. He managed to find a small local publisher to carry Adi Valente, but it meant more work than he could handle. He eventually lost his job at the cannery, giving him more time to develop and illustrate his series.
Adriana loved the manga, but the family was forced into hard times.
In her final semester, Seita requested higher royalties, but the publishing company went into administration and decided to cut the series. No longer able to afford the school fees, Adriana was pulled out of the elite academy where she was at the top of her class. Belinda was able to negotiate her graduation, but another student was able to take her place at the head of the class. Adriana was furious. On summer break, she learned everything about her rival: where he lived, where he hung out, what he liked to do in his spare time, what he listened to, what he watched, everything. She even stalked him on his way home one late summer evening and considered the myriad ways she could ruin his life. But, in the end, she did nothing, though something awakened within her and she felt like the anti-hero in a new story her father had been exploring.
Seita retreated further into himself and began producing this newer, darker manga, inspired by his visions and nightmares. A manga about a woman who hunts and guts the weak in a nightmarish realm with drones made of salvaged skulls and bones. But unable to sell this manga, Sonhadores Sombrios, the family became solely reliant on Belinda's income.
Adriana, looking for ways to make her own money, started a website dedicated to the world of Brazilian manga. It became a runaway success and significant advertising dollars started to roll in. She realized she had no real interest in writing for it, though, so she convinced other kids to write for it for free while the money flooded in. The second she got an offer she sold the site and never looked back.
Proud of her accomplishment, she came home to show her parents the cheque. She never got a chance to show her father, though. He walked out the door that morning, never to return, leaving only a stack of unpublished manuscripts about The Skull Merchant mercilessly hunting those she deemed worthy of her efforts.
To help her mother, Adriana began to study at the library, teaching herself investment and economics, and soon tripled her money. By the age of 18, barely with a high school degree, she had already become a self-made millionaire. As stories of this investment wunderkind spread across Brazil, more and more doors opened for her.
Before long, she had the kind of money that allowed her to buy small companies-companies that she would gut, replace with non-union workers, and sell at a profit. The only breaks she took from her corporate obsession was to pore over her father's manuscripts, trying to understand this chilling world he had created.
By her mid 20's, she was regularly flipping companies. While finalizing on a real estate firm, two members of the board moved to block the sale, pointing to the trail of hollowed-out husks she left in her wake. Adriana was frustrated. It took her weeks to find out who the holdouts were, but once she did, she thought about how it would feel to hurt them.
She learned everything about the directors. Stalked their every move. Manipulated them into attending a conference in Switzerland. And, while on retreat in the Alps, she made her move. Inspired by The Skull Merchant, and feeling something within demanding expression, she tracked them with a prototype drone, and brutally dismembered them with a cruel two-bladed weapon. The rush of emotion and adrenaline was unlike anything she had ever experience before. And the company was hers!
Thus began an unsettling cycle. Swoop in on a business, destroy anyone standing in her way, and gut the company for maximum profit. She targeted companies with larger-than-life CEOs and hoped one would present a challenge. None ever did. They just ‘disappeared' unremarkably.
An aggressive manager of a fireworks company, known for his “survival tours,” was her last target, right at home in Brazil.
Survival tours… a perfect cover.
Adriana lured him to a decommissioned airship hangar.
The hunt started at dawn and went the distance, with her still tracking him well into the evening. Locating him, she used one of her drones to direct him to a dead end, when a pair of kites suddenly appeared on camera, and the feed died. Her face hardened. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she slammed her laptop shut and charged to where the drone had crashed. There she found her prey reaching out to someone in the growing dark for help.
Not part of the plan!
Without a second to lose, she plunged her blade through his stomach, exposing meat, bone, and a dying heart. The vitiated body staggered left and right, sending a shower of red over the green foliage. As her victim collapsed with a thud she turned to the young witnesses. Wrong place, wrong time. They broke into a sprint. She gave chase, her blades thirsting for more blood. The lush green of the trees melted into a thick black fog. Real life warped into something like Sonhadores Sombrios. A sick grin crept across her face as she rushed forward to begin a new chapter in her life.