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.

Like my work? You can support my writing here if you enjoy it: https://www.patreon.com/YurikaSGrant

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18. Chapter 18

  Around the time Isla left for her camp, Anise had just come to after a late night talking to Lisa; the feeling of waking up next to a girl as gorgeous as this was unlikely to ever get old, she considered. She was rather less enamoured with the idea of having to get out of bed in that situation, however.

  An enjoyably sweaty session had been followed up by chatting about Anise’s interest in producing music videos – and maybe even movies one day – something Lisa agreed to help her with when they reached Slogh. And now, next morning in bed, both half-dressed again, it was finally time to depart.

  Anise grabbed a quick shower, then returned to find her partner half-awake. “Morning, sexy!”

  “Nnngh…” Lisa rubbed her eyes and sat up, her sparkly hair falling loose around her shoulders, un-brushed and sexy. “Morning…”

  Anise’s chest tightened at this cute display from an otherwise confident and poised girl. She immediately whipped a super slim-line camera out of her desk drawer, snapping several delightfully cute pictures of sleepy-head Lisa.

  “Okay, less flashing me first thing in the morning, please…” Lisa muttered, holding a hand up.

  “Mm, flashing’s not really my area of interest, but I admit I wouldn’t mind seeing you do it,” Anise said, grinning. She sat on the edge of the bed and put the camera away.

  Lisa wore a blouse again, half-unbuttoned from their previous evening’s activities, so she whipped it up briefly to show one of her breasts, again encased in a silver bra. “There you go.”

  Anise creased up at this casual exhibitionism. “I’m always happy to see those, but I think maybe it’d have more impact if we were out and about.”

  “Can’t argue with that,” Lisa said, having a languid stretch. “So… I was thinking today might be a good time to get you acquainted with a couple of people. Up for it?”

  “Sure! Anyone in particular?”

  “A director I met a couple of months ago, she’ll be able to give you some pointers. She works in movies, but she did a bunch of other things when she was younger, including music videos.”

  “Great.”

  Lisa snapped her fingers a couple of times in an ‘I just remembered’ sort of fashion. “Also, there’s a guy I work with regularly who’ll be useful for you to know. He’s an audio mastering specialist, does all my music. I’d love to do my own mastering, to be honest I’m kind of picky. But if I want the time to actually create, I need to hand some things off to others.”

  “I understand that perfectly! I do all my own photo work from start to finish, wouldn’t want anyone else doing it.” Enjoying a brief morning snog, Anise stood. “Got our weekend all planned out, huh? You’re such a professional girl! Kinda turns me on, if I’m honest.” She winked in an entirely too suggestive manner.

  Lisa jumped out of bed, a happy smile occupying her face. “Actually… there’s one other person I’d like to be able to introduce you to while we’re there, but I have no idea if she’ll even be available.”

  “Seems everyone you know is super busy at all times.”

  “Busy people are successful people. In any case, there’s a flower festival at Slogh this weekend and she’ll have been involved, no doubt about it. We’ll just have to see how things go and whether she’s free enough to meet up.”

  Having packed the previous evening at around the same time as Isla enjoyed some time with Millie, all that remained was to head to the mainland and catch a skybus to Slogh. Dressed casually – hotpants and T-shirt for Anise, another loose blouse and crops for Lisa – they reached a skybus terminal not far from the city-side monorail station.

  An airy and cavernous structure similar to the starport, just on a smaller scale, the skybus station saw a great deal of traffic; taking people not only to the nearest city of Slogh, but east over the mountains to the aptly named Movie Town – a city dedicated entirely to making movies – and to one of the original frontier towns in the west, abandoned for many decades and now a tourist trap.

  A mere fifteen minutes saw them transported the twenty mile distance across rolling plains, fields of corn, crops, and occasional villages, representing a significant portion of this region’s food production.

  Flying above the Capp River for much of the duration, soon the picturesque and quaint city of Slogh came into sight, squat and spread out in a vast network of houses and businesses, rarely above three storeys in height.

  Disembarking at a skybus station a little way into the city, they took a stroll through the busy streets. Anise, perhaps unsurprisingly, was like a kid in a candy store with an unlimited budget. Everywhere she looked stood quaint little black and white timber-framed houses, cottages, even bungalows; a building such as this would be inconceivable on Mars, where vertical space was used as efficiently as possible, both up and down.

  On the outskirts of the city a lake some four miles in diameter connected to the London River, named in honour of the long-destroyed city on Earth, and connecting to Capp River. Boats, jet skis, and luxury star-yachts dotted the surface, some out for pleasant summer activities, others moored by a half-mile of port with multiple jetties extending around the city side of the lake.

  Unlike the bustling metro of Aida itself, this city – as mentioned once by Lisa – seemed to have grown outwards instead of upwards, preferring a more reserved and restrained look and feel focused on wood and stone construction, albeit with numerous modern concessions.

  The people of Slogh had largely settled there from the British Isles, bringing with them a particular way of thinking and a unique outlook on life. Not least of which a continued love of complaining about the weather and queueing, much to Anise’s great amusement.

  Lisa explained a little of the history of the place as they walked, pointing out the thatched roofs and timber frames and cobbles. “Pretty different to Aida City, isn’t it?”

  “Totally different! The atmosphere here is… I can’t even describe it! It’s so laid-back,” Anise said, turning round and round. “Sort of slow-paced?”

  “Pretty good way to put it. Mira’s mentioned before that she loves it here for that reason.”

  “You said you’re originally from Britain, right?”

  “Indubitably.”

  “So I guess you feel at home here?”

  Lisa stopped outside a small shop front, a delicatessen with a variety of cheeses and meats on display in the windows. “Yes and no. I’m a big city girl, so I feel most at home in places like Aida or Canterbury. But I’m also kind of a history buff so I love old-timey places, too.”

  “Canterbury!? You’ve been there?” Anise asked, open-mouthed.

  “Been there? Nope. I grew up there. It’s where I was born.” Lisa peered through the window, checking out a delicious-looking side of beef. “Mm, could fancy grabbing a few things while we’re here…”

  “I’m going to have to be jealous now, hope you don’t mind.”

  Lisa craned her head around to look over her shoulder. “I thought you didn’t like Earth?”

  Anise shrugged. “It’s not so much that I don’t like it, I’ve never been. I just don’t think I’d feel very comfortable there. And anyway, Canterbury’s one of the original idol homes, I’d love to visit!”

  “I’m heading back there soon, as it happens. Wanted to visit in any case, but I’ve got a bunch of events lined up on Earth, too.” Lisa straightened up and eyed the door.

  Anise stepped forward and took her lover’s hand. “When do you leave?”

  “End of summer or thereabouts. It’ll be springtime on Earth, coming up to the summer season’s start.” Lisa wandered inside, tugging her partner along for the ride. “Mm, bacon…”

  “Now that’s something I need to eat more often,” Anise said, drooling over the displays.

  “Hard to get hold of on Mars?”

  “Not hard as much as expensive. We don’t really have the space for large-scale farming, so a lot of our meat and dairy is imported from Earth. Depends what it is, some stuff is pretty cheap, but bacon isn’t one of them. It lasts ages, though, so there’s that.”

  “Wow… can’t imagine life without smoked bacon in it,” Lisa muttered, feeling bad on behalf of her lover.

  “It was a nice treat occasionally, at least. But now I’m here on Aida? I’m going to go hog wild!” Anise felt an indeterminable sense of relief that her best friend wasn’t around to pick up on that pun. Though she figured Isla’s pun detector might be powerful enough to detect it even this far away.

  Ordering several items, Lisa paid and moved back to the door. “I’m more than happy to indulge in some mutual bacon sharing, any time you like.”

  Anise followed her outside. “I may take you up on that. Anyway, shouldn’t we go get checked in at the hotel?”

  Agreeing that they should indeed, Lisa led the way through the streets until they reached a large building, Horseshoe-shaped and three storeys with a thatched roof, crafted from composite micro-fibre materials made to match original Earth-based thatching.

  Lisa pointed at the roof. “You know there are people on Earth still using real thatch? Incredible, really. There’s a little place not far from Mum’s house that specialises in old techniques like this. Never found time to visit.”

  “First time seeing it,” Anise said. “I’m used to plastics and metals and boring designs. Sure, Mars has a lot going for it, and I love how efficient everything is, but…”

  “That’s the beauty of travel, my girl,” Lisa added, taking her lover’s hand. “Highly recommend you travel as much as you can, you’ll learn a lot, trust me.”

  “I intend to!”

  After this brief interrupted, they entered the foyer and checked in, heading up to the second floor and through to their room.

  “Here we go,” Lisa said, opening the door, immediately stuffing her bacon into the room’s fridge.

  Anise whistled. “Wow…”

  Judging from the outside, she had expected something small, quaint, and cosy. Instead, they were greeted by a space twice the size of her room at the academy. To the left, a large window looked out over the street at the front, under which stood a double bed, made up in soft satin sheets and plump goose feather pillows. And overhead, thick wooden beams a tall girl might easily bang her head on if she wasn’t careful.

  “So… are we on our honeymoon, or…?” Anise added, giggling.

  Lisa tilted her head, smiling. “A weekend away in another city with a girl as amazing as you? You didn’t honestly think I was going to book a regular room, did you, my dear?”

  Anise melted, running forward to smother her lover in kisses and hugs. “Aww… thanks, Lisa! I feel all special now.”

  “We know this can’t last forever, might as well go all in and enjoy it, right?”

  They unpacked their luggage and Anise went exploring through a door in wall opposite the entrance door to find a tiled wet room with shower and other facilities, plus a frosted window looking out on the paved path along the building’s side.

  She returned and sat on the soft and bouncy bed. “Nice! Can’t wait to snuggle later.”

  Lisa dropped down and wrapped her arms around Anise, falling over backwards with her on top. “Why wait?” They spent a moment tongue-tied. “Though we should probably go and do something productive before we get too carried away, huh?”

  “Probably.” Anise jumped off the bed and made a show of brushing herself down.

  A brief time was spent getting ready to head out again, at which point they left. Lisa flagged down a taxi similar to the ones in Aida itself – though in black rather than yellow, similar to old London cabs – and had it drop them on the outskirts of the city. Here, they wandered through an industrial-looking district towards one of many movie studio lots.

  “They’re in the middle of filming a new movie, some odd mixture of British period piece and sci-fi horror time travel… or something along those lines,” Lisa said, heading through the gates into a spacious concreted area. She flashed an ID card at the guard on duty.

  He took a look and nodded, waving them through.

  “Pride and Predators?” Anise hazarded as they made their way across the lot, past several enormous hangars, and out to an open-air set with a variety of explosions and action taking place.

  Lisa stopped at the yellow tape cordoning the set off. “That’s the one. I’m normally into historical stuff, and I love tech and sci-fi, but I’ve just not had the time to keep up with the latest movies. Even ones that sound as crazy awesome as this.”

  “One of the drawbacks of being successful?” Anise suggested.

  “It is, but I don’t really look at it like that. A few sacrifices are always necessary to be the best at what you do, but it’s worth it, right?”

  “Definitely!”

  “Ah, there she is.” Lisa pointed at a lady giving directions and generally taking charge on the set. “Suzanne Netter, a name you’re probably familiar with if you’ve watched any sci-fi movies over the last twenty years. Which I have to assume you have.”

  “You enjoy holding out on me, don’t you?” Anise said, stepping from one foot to the other in her excitement. “She’s one of my favourite directors! Aaah, I’m so glad I came to Aida…!”

  Lisa’s expression shifted to something a little more serious. “Let me tell you another of the big secrets to success: luck. And timing.”

  Anise nodded at this, still fidgeting like mad. “Mum’s an author, she’s said the same thing to me a few times.”

  “It’s the same for most creatives,” Lisa continued. “If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you can find yourself flying the skies of fame and fortune. Release a book or song at the wrong time and you might go completely unnoticed.”

  “I couldn’t be luckier to be standing here with you, I know that,” Anise said, surreptitiously pecking her mentor on the cheek.

  “Flattery goes a long way with me, keep it up,” Lisa replied, chuckling.

  The woman Lisa had pointed out turned, tucking her fluffy cocoa hair back over her shoulders to settle around the base of her neck as she harangued several actors in a good-natured way. Her skin, a deep brown with hints of warm umber, glistened a little in the humid atmosphere, and a number of gentle wrinkles around her nose and forehead indicated both age and wisdom.

  Hanging around in the background, Lisa whispered, “Have you heard of a band called Earthbound?”

  Anise shook her head, too busy watching the scene before them to respond verbally.

  “They were super popular on Earth a few decades back. Suzanne did most of their music videos. You should check them out sometime.” It looked like the movie crew were about to go on break, so Lisa moved forward to accost her associate. “Morning, Suzanne!”

  Suzanne’s face lit up. “Finally managed to make it over here, did you? Also, what did I tell you about calling me that?” Her expression turned theatrically annoyed, an eyebrow raised and a smirk on her lips.

  “Haha, sorry, it’s just because I respect you so much!” Lisa said, waving a hand.

  Suzanne laughed at this. “That’s the Lisa I’ve grown to know and love.”

  Lisa grasped Anise’s shoulder and pushed her forward. “Someone I’d like you to meet. Suzy. This is Anise, she’s interested in producing music videos.”

  Suzanne looked the new arrival up and down, nodding a few times in a clearly approving fashion. “Pleased to meet you, Anise. Lisa mentioned she had a new love interest, seems her standards are as high as ever.”

  “And you, Suzanne… um, Suzy?” Anise hazarded, bowing her head and blushing at the compliment. While she was well aware of how relaxed Aida was with regards to personal relationships, she could still be caught off-guard on occasion.

  Suzanne indicated the short-form version of her name was fine.

  Gathering her courage, Anise continued. “Lisa told me you used to produce music videos? I’d love to talk to you about that if you’re not too busy one day, maybe?”

  “Eager and polite? You certainly know how to get on my good side. Has Lisa been telling you about me?” Suzanne said, her eyes flicking back and forth from Anise to the set, keeping an eye on proceedings while simultaneously giving attention to personal matters.

  “Nope, she didn’t even know who we were meeting until we got here,” Lisa said.

  “I’m a huge fan!” Anise stated.

  “I could use one with how humid it is today,” Suzanne said, stifling a laugh. “Come on, let’s find somewhere to sit and chat.”

  They followed her around to a twelve-berth tent away from the set, open at the sides to let the breeze through, along with a variety of savoury scents. Inside, several tables were set up with various food and drink for the movie staff and cast, so they grabbed a few bits and pieces and sat together just inside the entrance.

  Settling herself comfortably on a chair, Suzanne enjoyed a mouthful of a spicy sausage, then focused on Anise. “So… you’re interested in directing music videos? Anything in particular? If you’re here with Lisa I guess you’re at least partially interested in electronic music?”

  “Actually, I’m really interested in working with idols mostly,” Anise said, taking a bite out of a burger. “But after Lisa let me listen to some of her music, I’ve started thinking that might be nice, too.”

  “Idols and electronic music go together very well,” Suzanne said. “Lisa here is living proof of that.”

  She went on to explain a little of her own experience. Working exclusively with bands in the Coalition of American States, the wildly popular deep rock band Earthbound had been her crowning glory, boosting her to new heights as a director.

  She had been at the forefront of new technologies such as hard-light holographical imagers, small-scale holotechnics – the natural evolution of older pyrotechnics – and Deep Movie technologies, allowing for the viewer to experience a movie as though they were there in person. Thanks to her successes producing music videos she moved on to direct several television shows, followed by breaking into movies…

  Finishing her burger, Anise now sat silently, enraptured and enchanted by this mature and experienced woman. “I’d love to hear some stories one day, sounds like you had an amazing career!”

  “Had? I still do!” Suzanne said, laughing.

  Lisa glanced over at the set, noting resumed activity. “Looks like you’re back on, Suzy.”

  “Indeed. I’d love to sit and chat some more but, as you can see, I’m in the middle of a major project, and lunch isn’t for an hour yet.” Suzanne snapped her fingers at a nearby assistant and had him run off to retrieve her handbag. She rummaged and produced a business card. “Give me a call sometime and we can set up a proper meeting.”

  Anise took the card and bowed her head. “Thanks, I really appreciate it!”

  Suzanne stood, placing a hand on Anise’s shoulder. “Any friend of Lisa’s is a friend of mine. And to be honest, you kind of remind me of… well, me back when I was just starting out. I hope you succeed, Anise.” She bade them good day and strode back to the set after their brief break to set up for a reshoot.

  Their meeting with Suzanne out of the way, Lisa took Anise off to see her audio mastering specialist. Strolling through the streets, they eventually arrived at a modern-looking glass-fronted building near the city centre. Anise found it interesting how the city changed from quaint and quasi-rural to crisp and modern the closer they went to the centre.

  Inside, they headed downstairs to an underground complex of halls and rooms, all pristine greys and plastics and metals, with polished marble floors and soft white lighting.

  Along the length of the hall, doors studded both sides, each with a light above to indicate active recording. A small touch panel beside the door itself would activate a subtle light within the studio to inform of a guest’s presence without unnecessary noise or interruption.

  Lisa touched the panel outside a particular door and waited. “Aedan knows I’m coming in to see him today, shouldn’t take long.”

  “Aedan?” Anise said, idly toying with strands of one of her twin ponytails.

  “Aedan O’Hare, my audio guy.” Lisa leaned against the wall. “I’ve worked with a few different people over the last few years, but Aedan’s the best. By a significant margin.”

  “You said it’d be helpful for me to know him?” Anise said, taking position next to her lover, close enough to touch shoulders and hold hands.

  “Yeah, though not necessarily for the reasons you’re probably thinking. It’s just helpful having a lot of contacts,” Lisa said with a nod. “You never know when a random person you met once might end up being able to put you into contact with exactly who you need.”

  Anise squeezed Lisa’s hand. “I’m so stupidly lucky to have met you, aren’t I?”

  Lisa burst out laughing and leaned over to nibble her partner’s ear. While in the vicinity, she whispered, “In this business, it’s all about who you know. Same could be said of relationships, right? Don’t go thinking you’re the only one happy to have met!”

  This made Anise shiver in delight, partly because of the sexy warmth of Lisa’s gentle breath on her earlobe, partly out of happiness that she’d had a similar impact on this professional and sexy girl.

  The light above the door chose this moment to flick from red to green, at which point the silver door whooshed to one side to reveal a young man in his early twenties. He had mid brown hair, soft grey eyes, and wore an outfit so stylish that Anise wondered if maybe he had chosen the wrong career, and might in fact be better off modelling on a catwalk somewhere.

  Aedan posed and pointed a finger at Lisa. “Hey-hey, wondered when you’d be dropping by! Come in, come in!” He backed into the room and flopped into a large, black leather swivel chair, pointing at an equally glossy and stylish black sofa along the rear wall.

  His guests sat on the sofa and crossed a leg each, more or less in sync, making Aedan laugh. “So, guessing you’re here to check up on your latest tracks, Lissy?”

  Anise’s eyes widened far enough it was possible they might fall out. “Lissy?

  “Ugh, don’t start with that again, Danny,” Lisa said, narrowing her own eyes as Anise’s widened.

  Aedan proceeded to laugh and swivel around to face the row of equipment involving many knobs, buttons, and sliders, where he brought up a file on his workstation. A holo display showed a waveform and he pressed a button to start it playing.

  Lisa wandered across to stand next to him, grasping a proffered pair of headphones and listening silently for a few minutes, nodding along to the beat. Eventually she took them off again, handing them back. “Perfect. Not that I’d ever expect anything less from Dan the Man.”

  “Am I missing something here?” Anise asked, her shoulders shaking a little as she laughed at this oddly cute banter.

  “First time we met, Aedan decided it’d be fun to hit on me,” Lisa said as she walked back to the sofa. “Trying to chat me up by calling me Lissy didn’t work so well, did it, Danny?”

  “Hey, a guy’s gotta try!” Aedan said, spreading his hands. “Speaking of which, who’s your cute friend?”

  “Girlfriend,” Lisa corrected, glaring. Technically they weren’t in fact an official couple, but she wasn’t above using the term in defensive situations.

  “Again? Damn, girl, you’ve got a different lady on your arm every time we meet. I’m jealous,” Aedan said, winking at them.

  “What can I say? I’m apparently irresistible to the same sex,” Lisa said, indicating with a smug expression that this was absolutely a-okay with her. “And to answer your question, this is Anise, she’s a new student at Dreamstar. Figured giving her a head start by introducing some people would be a good idea.”

  “Always helping the new girls, I love that about you,” Aedan said. “Anyway, guess you still have things to do today?” Like each other, he thought.

  Lisa, knowing exactly how Aedan’s mind worked, graced him with a half-smile. “No, we’re pretty free to spend the day how we like now. Probably in our comfy double bed at the hotel, right, Anise?”

  Playing along, Anise nodded and leaned over to brush cheeks. “Snuggling under the covers, sweaty and hot? Yeah, sounds like a plan, doesn’t it, Lisa?”

  They kissed, a brief peck of the lips, nothing more, then turned back to Aedan, smiling.

  “This is payback for the Lissy thing, isn’t it?” Aedan muttered. He let out a brief chuckle and rearranged his face into something more sunny. “I’ll get those new tracks finalised and sent over in the next week, can’t wait for whatever you come up with next.”

  Lisa strolled across and stooped down to place a delicate kiss on Aedan’s cheek. “There you go, you’ve more than earned it.” She took Anise’s hand and made for the door.

  “Hey, Lisa? You playing anywhere this weekend? Since you’re in town and all,” Aedan asked, touching a hand to his cheek.

  “Tonight at Merlin’s, tomorrow night at Central. Give me a ring if you need in, might be pretty packed,” Lisa said, winking in a way that suggested there was no doubt in her mind that both nights would be utterly heaving.

  Wishing him a good day, they exited out and headed back upstairs to be greeted by deeper orange sunlight and substantially lengthened shadows. With both appointments for the day now kept, Lisa figured spending a few hours wandering the city might be fun, so that’s what they did.

  Later that evening, around six o’clock, they returned to the hotel tired and hungry. In Anise’s case, hungry for more than simple food. Seeing Lisa being all professional and amazing had resulted in an insane degree of sexual frustration, and she was eager to release some of it.

  But first she needed a shower, one in which she found herself sharing a cubicle with a busty and beautiful girl. Figuring what the hell, she let herself be pampered by Lisa…

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