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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12. Chapter 12

  Rounding the stadium and gym complex – a large dome similar to the main academy, though more of a rugby ball shape rather than circular – Mira led the way through the double glass doors at the front. They made their way around to one of the wings, arriving in a changing room lined with lockers along the walls and benches in the centre.

  Mira gave Isla a stealthy kiss on the cheek and headed back out, returning to the workshop to check on Azusa.

  Since they were already dressed appropriately, Millie took her new friend out another door, appearing in the centre of the vast complex; unlike the fully covered academy buildings, the gym’s structure was similar to a stadium, open to the air, with tennis and volleyball courts, idols hard at work, and Cassiopeia Luna enjoying a practice tennis match with another girl.

  “Oh, looks like Luna’s back!” Millie said. She did a few stretches and limbered up.

  Isla remained silent, eyeing the dark-haired girl on the court as she served up a near-supersonic ball. “She’s good…”

  “She’s the academy’s number two player!” Millie said. “Couldn’t Adam and Eve it when I found out one of my favourite idols plays tennis now.”

  “I had no idea idols could be so many different things!” Isla laughed, followed by a minor furrowing of her brows. “Adam and… oh, believe?”

  “You’ve got it!”

  “Is there some reason for the rhymes?” Isla asked, still staring at Luna.

  “If you want to be successful, you’ve gotta stand out! But I also like Cockney rhyming slang. It’s something that doesn’t really exist now, more’s the pity.”

  “So you decided to try something similar yourself? To keep it alive in some way?”

  “You’re a sharp one!” Millie said with a sly smile. “From what I’ve learned so far, it seems you had to be born within earshot of a particular church to be considered Cockney. But the church was destroyed when London was trashed during all that nastiness couple’a hundred years back.”

  “That’s really depressing, Millie,” Isla muttered.

  “Kinda. Guess that’s why it’s up to people like me to keep these things alive, though. If I don’t, who will, right?” Millie finished her warmups and grinned at her new friend. “How do you want to start? Tennis? Or dance? Or we could try both!”

  Isla plumped for the option she felt sure of. “Tennis, I guess?” That, and the idea of dancing while playing tennis terrified for reasons she couldn’t quite pin down.


  Acquiring a racket each and half a dozen balls from a nearby store room, they jogged over to the second court, entering and doing their best not to stare too hard at Luna. After the morning run-in, Isla didn’t want to annoy her further if she could avoid it.

  Half an hour ticked past as Isla walked Millie through some basics such as swing, grip, and stance, additionally teaching her the general rules of tennis as a sport. Talking, joking, and enjoying each other’s company, Isla soon felt her protégé was probably ready for some real practice matches.

  Luna had taken an interest by now, glancing across between her own matches, studying the slender and athletic form of the girl who had knocked her over that morning. While Luna certainly had no delusions of grandeur – she ranked at number two in the academy, yes, but she wasn’t at full competitive level yet – she had enough experience to see extreme skill in another.

  And Isla felt like a threat.

  Serving a sedate ball for Millie, Isla focused wholly on her own activities. Intensely so, in fact. If Mira had stuck around, she might well have noted how utterly different Isla seemed; sure of herself, focused like a laser, and absolutely certain of her own skill, mildly rusty though she was at present. The total opposite of the indecisive girl who came to Aida largely because her best friend dragged her along for the ride.

  Millie learned fast, getting the hang of serving and returning within the space of a short ten minutes, and soon they had a nice rhythm going, knocking the ball back and forth and picking up the pace. Missing a ball, Millie ran off to the rear of the court to retrieve it, at which point Isla was given the fright of her life.

  “Hey, girl over there! What was it… Isla Ainsworth!” Luna called from the other court, pointing her racket in a semi-threatening manner.

  Isla visibly jumped at being addressed by a girl who already worried her far more than Mira ever had. “Y-Yes!?”

  Wandering across to the fencing between courts, Luna jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “You look like you can handle yourself pretty well. Fight me!”


  “A game. I’m challenging you to a game!”

  A round of gasps accompanied this. The academy’s top idol, challenging an utter newbie? The idols in the vicinity gathered around the court, figuring this wasn’t something to miss. And loitering in the stands high above, remaining out of sight and hearing range as best she could, Minami watched with interest, leaning forward on the railing and twiddling strands of hair in her fingers.

  Millie returned to a veritable commotion. “Uh-oh, what happened?” She listened as Isla explained, then gave a thumbs up. “A chance to face Luna one-on-one? Go for it! We can practice more later, no problem.”

  Isla held her racket out in response. “Ch-Challenge accepted!”

  “Excellent!” Luna said, making her way around the net to her own side, hoping she wasn’t making a mistake. After attempting to sleep and failing miserably despite being incredibly tired, she had come to the courts in hopes of helping matters with a few matches. Sleeping during daylight hours had never been easy, regardless of how tired she might be.

  Isla moved to the other court and lined up diagonally opposite her opponent, followed by Millie. “I’ve not actually played properly in a while, Luna, go easy on me!” The smile on her lips indicated she probably wasn’t being serious.

  Luna scowled. “Hmph! Don’t disappoint me now, little girl.”

  “Little—we’re the same age!” Isla snapped. At least, she figured they probably were, give or take a year or two.

  “Perhaps so, but the gulf between our skill levels can scarcely be measured.”

  Millie leaned against the fence directly perpendicular to the net and placed a hand on her hip. “Tit for tat time, Isla! You’re not going to let that stand, right?”

  Hardening her expression and loosening her stance, Isla nodded, stooping down with her legs wide, racket at the ready. “Guess I’ll just have to see how far I’ve dropped.”

  “Ready, Isla Ainsworth!?” Luna called, receiving a single nod of confirmation. She tossed the ball up and served.

  Isla moved, slamming the ball back with such speed that Luna almost fumbled, managing to return but adjusting her expectations accordingly. Eventually, Luna scored a point and Isla served. Luna again scored. Next, Isla managed to smash the ball right to the very edge of the court, making her opponent think it was a foul; it wasn’t, and she scored.

  Ending at 3-1 to Luna, they began their second set, Isla managing to pull ahead with two points immediately, pushing herself hard as the sweat poured down her forehead. The second set ended at a draw of 2-2. Isla felt fatigued and worn down thanks to pushing herself too hard as they began their final set.

  Luna, equally worn down but doing a better job of not showing it, racked up three points in rapid succession, followed by a lucky score from Isla, but the match ended as everyone, Isla included, expected; Luna had won. However, while she had indeed won, it was by a margin far smaller than those present could have predicted.

  Bringing her breathing under control, Luna stared intently at her opponent. “I underestimated you. That was a good match, Isla. I… would like to play you again one day!” She held her hand out in a sportsmanlike – if also mildly grudging – manner across the net.

  Isla clambered unsteadily to her feet and let out an awkward laugh. She clasped the proffered hand. “I’d like that! I’ll train hard and challenge you one day soon, I promise.”

  Putting her custom-built racket away in its protective sleeve, Luna exited the court, touching a hand to her opponent’s shoulder on the way past, and made her way to the changing rooms, intending to head back to bed in the hopes of finally being able to sleep.

  Up in the stands, Minami slipped away, speeding back to Arco Iris after leaving her partners in the lurch. As she ran, she muttered to herself. “Things are heating up! I’ll have to keep an eye on this Isla girl’s progress.” She reached Arco Iris, apologised for running off, and got back to her duties.

  At the stadium, Millie ran up to Isla and hugged her. “That was amazing! I can’t believe you kept up with her.”

  Isla accepted the hug despite her legs feeling like they might give out at any second. “I’m pretty surprised, myself! And sorry, Millie, that interrupted our practice. I should’ve said no, but—”

  “It’s okay! Seeing you give Luna a run for her money was worth it.” Millie laughed, a pleasantly high-pitched sound of utter joy to match her generally bubbly personality.

  Isla pulled away and rubbed her legs. “I guess we should put the dance practice off for now? Not sure my legs could cope.”

  “No problem. How about I dance for you instead?”

  “Sure, I’d like that!”

  “In that case, if you just grind your axe, I’ll give you a good old performance in appreciation for showing me how amazing you are,” Millie said, helping her fatigued friend back to the dormitory.


  “Relax, it means relax!” Millie laughed as Isla’s mouth became a vague ‘O’ of understanding.

  They headed briefly to Isla’s room so she could dry her sweat and change for the third time that morning, then ran downstairs. Millie led them through the cafeteria, picking up a soft drink and chocolate bar each on the way, and through to the next hallway. Here, she opened a heavy door to the right, leading out to the central doughnut hole where the gazebo stood.

  “In here, Isla!” Millie said. Bounding up the wooden steps and inside the large structure, she had Isla sit on one of the benches, then moved to the centre. Here, she took a few breaths, and began. She spun and pirouetted, danced and jumped, alternating styles, sometimes contemporary, sometimes more traditional, and always beautiful.

  There was an almost hypnotic rhythm to her movements, a flow and grace in which Isla could almost see patterns and images in the air; a swan taking flight, a leaping tiger, a dancing dragon. Millie gradually wound back down, issuing a low bow to end.

  Isla burst into spontaneous applause. “That was amazing!”

  Returning upright, Millie beamed. “You better cotton sleeve it. Been practising my moves for more than ten years now. I’m glad you enjoyed it!”

  “Cotton sleeve… believe…” Isla muttered, apparently taking notes. “I can’t wait to get started!”

  “Maybe tomorrow? Assuming you’re not challenged by another top idol first!” Millie said as she dropped down beside her new friend. “We’ll have plenty of time at the camp, and they have dance instructors and things, too.”

  Isla agreed this sounded like the best idea. Attempting anything today after pushing her body way too hard in her desire to, if not beat, then at least keep up with Luna didn’t seem wise. Not with a weekend camp to attend over the next three days.

  “You said you’d challenge her again, right? Think you can beat her?” Millie asked, cracking open her bottle of Quantum Flux, an isotonic energy drink by the makers of Sunrise and Sunset.

  Guzzling her own bottle of same, Isla swilled the mildly fizzy drink, humming thoughtfully. “Now I’ve played her I have a better idea of her ability. She’s good. Really good, actually. But I think I’m better… at least, when I’m not out of practice like now.”

  Millie spread her hands in faux shock. “That’s a bold claim!”

  “I’m pretty indecisive about a lot of things, Millie, but tennis isn’t one of them.”

  “You’re really cute when you have that determined look,” Millie commented in a pleasant tone. She unwrapped her chocolate bar, some strange concoction of chocolate, salted cashew nuts, and caramel.

  Blushing at the unabashed compliment, Isla pointed at her friend’s snack. “That seems like a really odd combination. Chocolate and salt?”

  “Pff, this is tame! Ever tried chocolate-covered crisps? Or strawberry pizza?”

  Isla physically recoiled. “No! Ew, the very idea of strawberries on pizza…”

  “How about a doughnut burger?”

  “A doughnut burger,” Isla said, not even bothering to attach a question mark.

  “There’s loads of great food combos out there. I’ve made it my mission in life to taste as many as possible!”

  “Well… um, good luck?”

  “Don’t judge without trying for yourself,” Millie said, a touch primly.

  Unwrapping her own bar, Isla figured this one was at least halfway sane. “I guess that’s fair.” She took a bite. Chewed. Swallowed. Opened her eyes wide in mild surprise. “It’s actually really good.”

  “See? We’ll work our way up to strawberry pizza nice and slow, no worries.”

  “Yeah, I’m not so sure about that one. But this is nice at least, thanks.” Isla finished the chocolate bar and stood on wobbly legs. “I guess I need to sign up for this camp?”

  “Yup, it’s a simple case of running to the job board in the number one dome,” Millie said, jumping up and walking together back into the dormitory, outside, and over to the domes.

  “Ah, Mira showed me that already, no problem,” Isla said as they approached the dome.

  Entering, she made her way over to the holographic job board to the left of the welcome kiosk they had checked in at on their first day. She found the appropriate entry for the camp and touched her phone to it; a chime confirmed her registration.

  “Perfect,” Millie said. “I’ll come get you in the morning, okay? We’ll be flying to the lodge on one of the academy’s skybuses. Bring a bag and enough clothes for three days, you shouldn’t need much else. Just toiletries and all that.”

  With this decided, Millie wished her new friend well and ran off to another engagement, leaving Isla to saunter across to Dome 02 to check in with Mira. Azusa was hard at work sketching ideas for Isla’s new outfit, so they left her to it and spent the rest of the day relaxing, talking about Isla’s run-ins with Luna and preparing for the camp.

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