Aida Book 1: Dreaming of the Stars

Transferring from their home on Mars, best friends Isla and Anise arrive on Aida, hopeful and eager. Isla is initially unsure of her direction, but soon meets someone who can help her discover her destiny, and Anise finally feels like she can truly be who she is.

Alongside their new friends and mentors, Lisa and Mira, Aida's latest arrivals quickly adjust to their new lives, beginning their ascent to idolhood. And along the way, they might both find some new and exciting interests on the side...

Aida: An Idol Romance is a sci-fi-themed lesbian romance novel serial with some 10 books planned, and probably more. This is the free version of the full book and includes everything except the explicit ero scenes, those are mentioned but not directly shown.

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11. Chapter 11

  Isla, meanwhile, did a few warmup stretches on her floor, ready for a morning run. Mira was still dozing peacefully in the bed, apparently not much of one for mornings.

  If Isla was going to be an idol, never mind a successful idol, she figured she needed to work on her fitness after slacking off for half a year while visiting the New British Republic, generally still known simply as Britain despite the name change.

  She was an active girl in any case and had some good muscles on her from all the tennis she played, but she was still painfully aware that her stamina needed serious work.

  Warmups complete, she left Mira sleeping and went for a run around the campus island’s full circumference; an enjoyable if occasionally agonising six mile distance, give or take a few hills and uneven surfaces along the way.

  There were already a good number of other girls out and about, nodding pleasantly at her as she passed; people on Mars rarely ran in public, instead electing for the safer and more efficient gyms. Being able to run under the bright midsummer sun was a welcome experience, something she had enjoyed during the six months she spent on Earth, even if that was largely for fun rather than real training.

  At the same time as Isla made her way around the island, one Cassiopeia Luna had just stepped off the monorail and exited the station. She took a look at her beloved academy campus and broke into a brief run down the hill, making her way to the dormitory.

  Her deep blue-purple hair flowed out like a cape as she jogged, sparkling with little points of white in a manner reminiscent of a starry sky. Issuing neutral greetings to the various idols and staff wandering the paths, she homed in on the sandy white dormitory and, more importantly, her bed.

  After a month spent touring one of the colony worlds, the lush and often-tropical planet called Gran Manillo, she had returned to Aida for a well-earned rest. It would be nice to put her feet up for a few days after a hectic four weeks of constant signing sessions, live events, and stellarvision appearances.

  En-route she stopped to pick up a few things at the shopping centre; snacks, some essentials for the bathroom, and a new pair of sunglasses after managing to break hers on the flight home. Exiting the store, she strolled towards the dormitory building and ran head first into a girl she had never seen before.

  Bumping into Isla’s chest, Luna rebounded onto her behind with a pained ‘oof!’, her luggage clattering to the path nearby. “Ow, what the hell…!”

  Isla gasped. “Oh god, I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going! Are you okay?” She reached down to help and froze. “C-Cassiopeia Luna!?”

  Luna uttered an expletive and looked up. Seeing Isla’s outstretched hand, she scowled and climbed to her feet unaided, brushing herself down. “That would be me, yes. Hmm…” Her mildly miffed gaze took in the unfamiliar girl before her, looking Isla up and down in a vaguely disapproving fashion. “I thought I knew all the girls at the academy. Never seen you before. New girl?”

  “Ah, yes! I just transferred in with my best friend a week ago. Isla Ainsworth, nice to meet you! I’m really sorry, I was in a hurry to get somewhere… though that’s no excuse.” Isla lowered the hand, her cheeks burning like binary suns.

  Luna waved a mildly irritable hand. “Don’t let it bother you, I’ll live. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She nodded at Isla, retrieved her luggage, and continued on her way, surreptitiously rubbing her aching butt.

  “Two new girls, hmm? Interesting, I shall have to investigate when I can spare a moment,” she muttered, continuing on her way. She wanted more than anything to get reacquainted with her bed after a twenty-five hour hyperspace flight.

  Meanwhile, after having returned to the dorm to shower and change into something sporty in white and orange, Isla returned to running as fast as her legs could carry her to the academy domes, keeping a better eye out for potential collisions this time.

  Mira had by now managed to crawl out of bed and start her day, inviting Isla to meet her partner, one Sophie Bellerose, and her excitable apprentice, Azusa.

  Rushing headlong into the appropriate dome and through to the rear where the workshop resided, Isla entered the room and bent over, grasping her knees for a moment as she attempted, with limited success, to get her breath back. It would take more than a mere week of regular morning runs to improve her stamina, a fact that rapidly became apparent as she wheezed her way back to something approaching life.

  She returned to an upright stance and took a deep breath, smiling at her mentor. “Morning, Mira!” Her lover had left the room before she returned, making this their first direct contact of the morning. Isla found she rather enjoyed how casually Mira treated life, feeling little need to hang around just to see her girlfriend-for-now before leaving the room.

  Mira beckoned her across, already brewing tea at the usual bench. “Good morning. You seem a little out of breath.”

  “Went for a run around the campus while you were still asleep,” Isla said, standing by the central tables. She waited patiently for Mira to serve tea – which seemed almost like an observance at this point – while gazing idly out of the window… until a loud interruption nearly gave her a coronary.

  The door had opened to a crashing cacophony of clattering. Isla ran around to the girl who had just entered and immediately fallen flat on her face, collapsing one of the folding tables in the process and littering the floor with the resultant mess.

  She extended a hand. “Um, are you okay?”

  Unlike Luna, the new arrival was quite happy to accept the help, and grasped Isla’s hand, unsteadily getting to her feet. “Hey! Uh, thanks for that! Sorry, was in kind of a rush and holy crap you’re gorgeous?” She glanced at Mira. “Is this her!?”

  Mira did her best not to laugh at the girl’s flustered state. “Yes, this is her.”

  A gentle sigh from the doorway indicated a second presence. Standing with hands on hips, a young lady in her early twenties with almost painfully vivid, shoulder-length blonde hair – a pure yellow tone closer to lemon than lion – surveyed the carnage, her lilac eyes flicking back and forth from the mess to the girl.

  “Good morning, Mira,” she said, switching her attention to Isla. “You must be our new girl? Pleasure to meet you, I’m Sophie.” She pointed to the girl brushing herself down after her little mishap. “And this is my apprentice, Azusa. She’s currently learning how not to knock over my tables, aren’t you, my dear?”

  Azusa let out an embarrassed laugh and attempted to ignore her mess for a moment, too focused on Isla to care about much else. Her hair – a vivid azure colour, clearly another girl using the hair colour altering technology Isla had become a little more accustomed to by now – had also fallen forward, almost as a show of solidarity. She flicked the mildly wavy twin ponytails back over her shoulders with a hand. They settled behind her, reaching to the small of her back.

  “You weren’t joking when you said she was a cutie, were you, Mira?” she said, walking around Isla. “Anyway, nice to meet you, I’m Azusa, I design stuff! When Sophie lets me, anyway.”

  Striding across to the workbench her partner still fussed around, Sophie placed her own bags down to the side of the bench, grasping a proffered cup of tea. “Hmm… Isla’s a pretty girl, isn’t she? Petite yet shapely, lovely hair, very nice indeed. Azusa!”

  Her apprentice jumped, snapping to attention. “Right here, Master!”

  “Fancy a challenge?”

  “Always, Master!”

  “Take some measurements and make something for Isla. I’ll let you decide what you feel would suit her best. Get to it!” Sophie placed the mug on the bench and clapped her hands a couple of times, smiling as her apprentice scrambled into action.

  “I can make her something? Anything? Anything at all!?” Azusa looked Isla up and down. “I’ll make you something wonderful, Isla, just you wait!”

  “She might be clumsy, but she’s also incredibly talented,” Mira said as she brought a tray over with three mugs of tea, placing it carefully on the one still-standing table before the sofa.

  Leaning back against the workbench, Sophie sipped her tea. “Quite so. She wouldn’t be my apprentice otherwise.”

  Turning around in an effort to follow Azusa as she circled, Isla marvelled at this girl’s deep green-gold eyes, thinking they looked vaguely reminiscent of a piece of jewellery with a fine patina of verdigris, contrasting beautifully with the blue hair. “Sure, that’d be wonderful, thank you. I’ve never had someone make clothes for me before!”

  Azusa came to a halt behind Isla, checking out her butt. Then around the front, looking up and down. And finally her gaze came to rest on her face. “Great! Lemme take some measurements and oh damn… I buggered the tables again, didn’t I?” She sighed, surveying the mess.

  Isla wondered what the deal was with this cute yet seemingly disorganised girl – who appeared to be much of an age with her – switching sentences halfway, but figured it was probably either an idol act, or she was just easily distracted. Maybe both. She squatted down and picked up some pieces of fabric. “Here, let me help.”

  Azusa graciously accepted the offer and, together with Mira, they managed to right the table and dump everything back on top, watched with eagle eyes by Sophie.

  Remembering she had dropped the bags she came in with, Azusa collected the strewn contents and left them on the lime green sofa under the window. “That’s better,” she said, wiping her brow. “Sorry about that, Master! No idea how I manage to trip over my own feet and let’s get you measured, Isla.” Staring at the cluttered table, she muttered, “I’m sure I left my tape measure somewhere here…”

  “I’m guessing this time I actually do need to undress?” Isla said, thinking back to when she had been here with Mira the first time.

  “Well, I can’t measure you properly when you’re wearing clothes, can I?” Azusa said with a laugh. She rummaged on the tables and produced a tape measure and notepad.

  “A paper pad? I thought pretty much everyone used digital now,” Isla said.

  “Mm?” Azusa looked up at Isla, then back at the pad. “Oh… yeah, I like scribbling on real paper and where the hell did I put my pencil?”

  Sophie grasped an item from the bench and tossed it across. “You left it over here last night.”

  Azusa clumsily caught the sleek mechanical pencil. “What would I do without you, Master?” She clicked a length of lead out. “Okies, let’s do this.” Once Isla had tugged her clothes off, standing in her underwear and blushing lightly, Azusa began measuring, jotting things down on her pad and muttering under her breath.

  Taking a seat on the sofa, Mira crossed a leg and rested her chin on her hand, apparently enjoying the show. “While Azusa busies herself with that, I have a recommendation for you, Isla.”

  “Go ahead,” Isla muttered, arms straight out to the sides and a tape measure wrapped around her waist.

  “There’s a special camp the academy sometimes runs for idols who want to get a bit of a boost. It’s coming up next weekend and a friend of mine who entered Dreamstar a few months back will be attending. I think you’d do well to go along with her, you’re around the same sort of level. You’d be well suited as training partners.”

  “What sort of—Azusa!?” Isla jumped as a hand that didn’t belong to her went somewhere intimate.

  “Stop struggling, please, I need to measure you down there as well!” Azusa murmured, attempting to measure from the top of Isla’s leg down to her ankle.

  Letting this admittedly vivacious and interesting girl touch her as she liked, Isla tried to concentrate. “What sort of things would I be looking at?”

  Mira waved her mug about in a vague fashion. “Running, team building exercises, dance lessons, practice auditions, all sorts. You can pretty much pick the things you’re most interested in and focus on those. There’s also a nice wooden lodge you’ll stay in. Barbeques. Nights on the sand under the stars.” She laughed as Isla’s face lit up. “I see you like the idea.”

  “It sounds super fun!” Isla said, nodding. Next weekend… that meant she’d be away over the same period as Anise. Well, that worked, it’d keep them both busy.

  An evil laugh emanated from somewhere around Isla’s feet. “Ahaha, well, if you like being run ragged, sure!” Azusa stood and threw the tape measure on the table. “All done, you can get dressed now. Well, if Mira lets you.”

  A relaxed shrug of her shoulders indicated Mira had probably already worked out any necessary tensions. “I’m quite content for now, Isla gave me a proper seeing-to yesterday.”

  “Mira!” Isla said, shocked, as she struggled back into her clothes.

  “Azusa’s perfectly trustworthy, you don’t need to worry,” Mira said. “As is Sophie, naturally.”

  “That’s besides the point…”

  Mira stood and gave her temporarily lover a kiss. “I’ll try and restrain myself, sorry, my sweet.”

  “S-Sweet?” Isla had once worried her cheeks might melt under the weight of embarrassment. Today, it felt like it might actually happen.

  Mira poked Azusa in the back. “Got everything you need?”

  Azusa was already sketching something interesting-looking, but stopped for a second to speak. “Sure have! Measurements, some ideas for things that might suit her, and isn’t Luna supposed to be back today?”

  “Oh… yes, I believe so.”

  Sophie paused in the act of taking delicate bites from a doughnut. “She is, yes. Just as well, too, I have her new outfit here.”

  Isla stiffened. “I actually ran into her this morning.”

  “Judging from your expression, you don’t mean figuratively, do you?” Mira said, laughing.

  “I kind of knocked her on her ass, yeah,” Isla muttered.

  Bursting into unrestrained laughter that was quite out of character, Mira took Isla’s hand and led her to the door. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to Millie.” She waved to her partner. “See you later, Sophie. I’m also looking forward to what you come up with, Azusa.”

  Isla echoed the sentiment as they exited. “So Millie is the friend you mentioned?” she asked as they walked.

  “Indeed. Lovely girl, originally from Slogh. Her family’s been good friends with mine for the last few decades.” As they emerged into the morning sunlight, Mira pulled her phone out and sent a message requesting a situation report from Millie. Seconds later, a reply; at Arco Iris, guzzling water after running twice around the campus’s full circumference.

  Isla let out a quiet laugh. “Anise still can’t get over how that name is pronounced.”

  “You mean Slogh? Indeed, though it’s not the only oddity. And it nicely describes the pace of that city, it’s pretty slow and laid-back in general compared to Aida.”

  Making their way over, they walked past the main café building and stepped onto the deck, where Minami chatted to an incredibly cute girl with deep green hair – a little darker than in-season grass – worn loose and falling to just below her shoulders with a slight curl inwards at the end. Her skin had a similarly bronzed tone to Isla, making for a stunning compliment to her hair.

  She turned at hearing footsteps, her reddish brown – almost crimson, in fact – eyes widening with pleasure at seeing her friend. “Mira!”

  Stepping a foot back for support as Millie slammed into her, Mira accepted her friend’s embrace. “Morning, Millie. Energetic as ever, I see?”

  Millie pulled away and grinned, her features indicating a level of mischief Isla found appealing. “Aye! Always running at full speed, you know me.”

  Mira pushed Isla forward and introduced her. “You’re still attending the camp, I believe?”

  “Yep.” Millie’s head bobbed.

  “Wonderful. I’ve suggested Isla accompany you, if you don’t mind looking after her?”

  “Be happy to,” Millie said, turning her attention to Isla with a smile that could’ve melted even the most hardened heart. “Wow, you’ve got the trinkets an’ loot, ain’t’cha?”

  “T-Trinkets?” Isla said. Appraising Millie in turn, she took in the heavily green-focused outfit the girl wore; green shorts, white T-shirt, green and white sneakers. Effectively identical to Isla’s training getup, bar the colours.

  Mira came to the rescue and placed a comforting hand on Isla’s shoulder. “Loot rhymes with cute, yes? She’s calling you cute. Millie likes rhyming. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to her soon enough.”

  “O-Oh. Th-Thank you, Millie, you’re really cute as well!”

  “Planes and tanks! So what do you do here, Isla?” Millie asked.

  “Um, for now I’m thinking of concentrating on being a regular idol. But I also love tennis!”

  Behind the bar, Minami perked up. “You’re a tennis player?”

  Isla waved at her and issued a good morning. “I am! Mum got me into it at a pretty young age.”

  “Sweet. Maybe we can play one day, I dabble a bit myself,” Minami called over, then went back to idly polish a glass.

  Isla indicated that would be nice.

  “Maybe you can give me some lessons? I’m always up for learning new things,” Millie said. “I can help you with some dance moves in return, it’s what I’m best at.”

  “I believe you’re best at being utterly adorable, actually,” Mira murmured, laughing under her breath.

  Millie seemingly didn’t hear this – or simply chose not to respond openly – so Isla agreed readily to help out, thinking that having some dance lessons would be incredibly useful.

  As they wandered off towards the gym complex, Minami ran inside the café. “Yumi!”

  Yumi wandered out from the back, tying her hair up into its usual enormous blue ponytail in readiness for her day. “Something wrong?”

  “Look after the bar for a little while, could you? I’ve got something to do quickly!” Minami said, sprinting out of the building.

  “If you’re just going to go running off immediately, why even ask? Silly girl.” Yumi let out a brief sigh, then smiled and did as requested…

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