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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20. Chapter 20

  A few rays or morning light crept through the curtains, waking Anise. She sat up, stretched, and stared bleary-eyed at the far wall. A day wandering the city followed by a night out, lots of sweaty dancing, and enjoying some sweaty activities of a rather different nature in addition had taken a toll on her body.

  Nevertheless, she made a supreme effort to clamber out of bed and visit the bathroom, then poked Lisa until she sat up. “Morning!”

  Lisa nodded. “Mm, you’re right, it is.”

  “What’s our plan for today? You’re playing that gig tonight, right?”

  “At Central, yeah. It’s the biggest club in Slogh, fits around five-thousand people in the main stage area. Nothing too major.”

  “Nothing major? Lisa…”

  “Hey, from my point of view five-kay is pretty sedate,” Lisa said, laughing in a manner Anise found intensely attractive; an assured and measured sound indicating extreme self-confidence but never devolving into arrogance.

  “I’ll take your word for that,” Anise said, figuring Lisa wasn’t just being coy. It wasn’t difficult to imagine her playing for hundreds of thousands of people, so five thousand really would be sedate for her.

  Lisa chuckled at this, then jumped out of bed to grab a quick shower. Returning, she sat on the edge of the mattress to dry her hair.

  “So what’s the plan today?” Anise asked, sitting just behind her lover, cross-legged in the middle of the mattress.

  “You like flowers?” Lisa asked.

  “Sure.”

  “In that case, you’ll enjoy today. There’s a big festival and parade Slogh holds once a year, and today is it.”

  “This’ll be the thing the person you want me to meet will have been involved with?” Anise asked.

  Lisa made a vague okay symbol with the hand holding the brush. “One and the same.”

  “Oh… is this festival why you’re playing a big gig tonight?”

  “Sure is. Most of the clubs have a special event of some sort for the parade,” Lisa said, placing the dryer to one side.

  Instantly, Anise stole the hairbrush and spent a little while brushing her partner’s hair, shifting around to sit with her legs to Lisa’s sides. “This is something I seriously need to do for Isla one day soon…” she murmured.

  “You’ll be pouncing on her the moment I head to Earth, I presume?”

  The brushing stopped. “You heard that?”

  Lisa pointed to one of her ears. “I’ve got really good hearing.”

  The brushing started again. “I want to, more than anything. I love her so much it hurts, but I also don’t want to push her away. Just need to give her the time she needs.”

  “Believe it or not, I do understand how you feel.”

  “You do? Um… Mira, maybe?” Anise hazarded.

  “Nope. Well… yeah, she’s my best friend and I love her to bits, but no, not in the way you mean. No, I mean a certain lovely girl we’re off to see today.”

  “Are you going to tell me who it is?” Anise asked, switching the brush over to her other hand and continuing.

  “Remember I told you I spent a year living with the royal family on Gran Manillo?”

  Anise gasped. “You fell in love with a princess!?”

  Lisa’s shoulders shook a little as she stifled a laugh. “Fell in lust might be more accurate. But by the time I left? Yeah, I think it had definitely turned into love.”

  “There are two, right? Which one did you fall for?”

  “The older sister, Keliana. She’s beyond incredible. Smart, sexy, mature, refined, beautiful. Pretty sure her little sister had figured me out, but she never said anything.” Lisa chuckled, followed by an unusually sombre sigh of regret.

  Leaning forward, Anise poked her head into Lisa’s field of vision. “So what happened?”

  “Nothing happened. Kept my feelings to myself. This was ages ago anyway, more of a teenage crush than anything. I was still figuring out my own sexuality.” Lisa turned her head to issue a quick lip peck.

  Anise shivered a little and resumed her brushing. “Makes two of us, huh? Think I was about fourteen when I first realised I fancied Isla.”

  “Kelly was the catalyst for me. Seems Isla was for you?”

  “No question. Even if I’d looked at other girls, none of them made my heart beat like Isla did!”

  “Mira did that to me. One day I’ll tell you about how we met and ended up shagging. But for now, we should probably get ready if we don’t want to miss the parade.”

  “Okay!” Anise said, and finished up by grasping Lisa’s hair gently in both hands and doing something with it.

  Lisa glanced over her shoulder. “What are you up to back there?”

  “I fancy seeing you scored for ponytail today. If you don’t mind?”

  “Whatever makes you happy,” Lisa said, enjoying the gentle sensation of having her hair played with for the second time that morning.

  Dressing in something a little more refined on this occasion for reasons Lisa remained evasive on – though Anise knew it was simply to look good for her royal friend – they exited and headed into the city, noting how the streets fairly heaved with people.

  They wandered aimlessly for an hour, weaving in and around the crowd as best they could. Various stalls and vendors had been erected along a number of smaller side streets selling baubles, trinkets, and souvenirs, plus a variety of British-themed foods.

  Grabbing themselves a tray of chips with a sausage and some curry sauce each for breakfast, they continued their jostled yet jolly jaunt. Lisa led them to a wide area lined with diamond-shaped pink and white alternating tiles and a fountain in the centre surrounded by two storey stone-built houses, each a sandy beige.

  “Is Keliana around here somewhere?” Anise asked as they sat together on a convenient bench near the white stone fountain, finishing up their impromptu meal.

  Lisa shook her head. “Doubtful. I suspect we’ll see her when the parade starts.”

  “Sounds like you know something…”

  “Well, it’s just a guess.”

  “When does it start?”

  Lisa consulted her phone, a snazzy silver affair with cool blue decorative lights. “About an hour.”

  This was spent exactly as the last hour had been; aimlessly wandering the streets. This whole section of the city had a similar design aesthetic to the fountain plaza, utilising sandy stone and pedestrianised streets tiled in the same pink and white diamond design.

  “There’s a nice uniform look to this area, huh?” Anise commented.

  “You know Aida was settled partly with the intention of turning it into an entertainment world, yes?” Lisa said, waving a hand at the buildings.

  “Of course.”

  “You don’t think these cities were built randomly, do you?”

  “At school we learned that they were built the way they were because of the cultures who built them. Like this place was mostly British people, so it’s got a very British look?”

  Lisa waggled the hand. “You’re half right. Some schools leave bits out or don’t think they’re important, but if you study history you’ll learn that these places were built specifically to accommodate movie filming.”

  “That’s why Pride and Predators is being filmed here? Because it’s partly a period piece?” Anise suggested.

  “Some of it’s being filmed on Earth as well, but yes, that’s why.” Lisa stopped and stared at Anise. “I’m surprised you don’t know this already. Isla mentioned you’re a total maniac for Aida.”

  “I am! But mostly the city itself since that’s where the idols hang out,” Anise said.

  “I shouldn’t be surprised, should I?” Lisa added with an amused smile, moving forward again.

  They reached a wide main street running through the centre of the city alongside London River, with ornate bridges every mile or two along its length. On both sides of the road, portable metal railings had been erected, behind which a throng of people awaited the parade.

  Lisa had acquired a large bottle of Nipton’s Iced Tea for something refreshing while they were hanging about, occasionally passing it back and forth. Aida’s summers were well known for being hot and humid, but today they had been graced with blistering heat minus the moisture, a happy occurrence for all concerned.

  Sweet floral smells already filled the air, lilies and tulips and roses making for a fragrant and pleasant wait despite the mass of people all around them. And in the distance, far up the street, a thumping of drums indicated something headed their way.

  Coming into view at the far end, a marching band preceded the first of the floats, playing something upbeat and catchy, almost jazz-like. They strode past, trumpets blaring, trombones blasting, and drums drumming.

  As the floats began passing by, Lisa stared, apparently searching for something. “I know you’re there somewhere…”

  “Lisa?”

  “There!” Lisa stated, pointing.

  Anise looked up at the float, a bright orange and yellow affair covered in thousands of flower petals. And standing in the middle, holding a sceptre with a shiny diamond knob on the end, the first princess of Gran Manillo, her expression blissful.

  “First time seeing Kelly in years, and she runs off to Slogh for three months. I shall have to have words when the parade’s over,” Lisa said in a surprisingly miffed tone.

  Another two dozen floats made their way past, filled with costumed dancers, petal-covered animals statues and, in one particular case, an original model Martian Space Industries X-701 prototype starliner, built from mesh and coloured using petals from an Aidan flower known for its soft ash grey colour, called Cinder Lily.

  They pushed through the crowds, following the floats on their journey around the city until finally, on the outskirts where the organisers of the parade had set up in and around several warehouses and open fields, it came to a halt.

  The moment this happened, Lisa strode forward and waved at her princess. “Keliana, dear, would you mind coming over here?”

  Anise had to do a double take at the posh tone and distinctly irritated way Lisa had said that. “Wow, never heard you actively annoyed before.”

  Lisa smiled at her. “I’m not really annoyed, but Kelly certainly needs to explain herself. We can get into specifics later.”

  A tall girl, the princess stood a good two inches over Anise, who wasn’t exactly short herself. Her hair was currently a deep Byzantium purple combined with a mid-green tone in an alternating barcode style. Anise picked up immediately that this girl used the extremely expensive high-end Microtek hair solution; achieving a barcode effect as neat as this was nigh-impossible with the regular single-use implants.

  Dressed in a pale pink dress that glittered and sparkled under the sun, this special flower parade outfit contrasted against the princess’s light brown skin, a degree of olive hue indicating potential Mediterranean – or a colony world similar in general clime – heritage.

  Keliana had noticed Lisa by now and was presently attempting to seem nonchalant. With mixed results. She strolled over, avoiding eye contact. “Um, good day, Lisa!”

  “Don’t you ‘good day’ me, young lady. Running off to Slogh for three months… you know I leave for Earth soon, right? I wanted to spend some time with you, but no, flowers are more important than your best friend.”

  Keliana, a girl who was in fact a year Lisa’s senior, coloured. “I… I apologise, Lisa, I just—”

  Lisa cracked up and rushed forward to hug her princess. “I’m playing with you, it’s okay! Though I meant the bit about wanting to spend time with you. I’ve missed you like mad, Kels.”

  “I truly am sorry, Lisa, I let my newfound freedom best me, it seems,” Keliana whispered, her eyes welling up.

  “You’re free now the parade’s over, right?” Lisa said, pulling away.

  Kelly composed herself. “Quite so, yes!”

  “Wonderful.” Lisa pulled her lover over. “Anise, allow me to introduce Grand Princess Dona Keliana Francisca Madeiras.” She extended an arm and bowed, a reverential gesture Anise would never have expected if Lisa hadn’t already mentioned her feelings for this girl.

  “Lisa, please, you know I dislike all that pomp and circumstance,” Keliana said with a perfectly princess-like frown of disapproval. “While in private, at least. Alas, I do have to maintain appearances in public.”

  A mischievous grin occupied Lisa’s face. “I know you do. I just love your blushing face.”

  “Really, now…” Keliana murmured, the blush deepening. She switched attention to her new friend. “It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance, Anise!”

  “Aaah, a real princess…!” Anise murmured, instantly going weak at the knees. “Lovely to meet you, too, Keliana!”

  “Please, ‘Kelly’ is perfectly acceptable for any friend of Lisa’s,” Kelly said, waving a hand.

  Stepping forward, Lisa beamed. “So, figured you’d be the Flower Queen. Looks like I was right.”

  Kelly shook her head. “Honestly, I had no intention of being involved beyond helping to decorate the floats, but everyone seemed to think I was the only choice. It was really very awkward when the eight queen candidates all nominated me.”

  “It’s not every day you get a real princess turning up,” Lisa said, stroking Kelly’s arm.

  “Yes, but I didn’t want to rob a young girl of her chance to shine…”

  “You could always put on your own parade when you get home and invite them to participate?” Lisa suggested, only partially joking; she knew Kelly would respond positively.

  Kelly clapped her hands together. “Yes… yes! A splendid idea, Lisa, thank you. I shall ask Nisette the moment I return.”

  “Oh, Nissy’s still your guardian, huh? I can’t wait to see her!” Lisa said.

  “In an ever changing world, she feels like the only constant, yes.” Kelly led them through into areas the public normally wouldn’t be allowed into, strolling between stationary floats. “I shall miss this. Today has been such an enjoyable day! To be surrounded by such wonderful people and flowers…”

  “Glad to see your love of all things green is as strong as ever,” Lisa said.

  Kelly said nothing, merely nodded with a forlorn smile on her lips. She wandered freely, a hand gently stroking across the flowers and petals covering each float. Eventually, she let out a melancholy sigh, a sort of ‘aaah…’ of both absolute contentment and mild depression rolled into one.

  Anise melted at this cute display. “She loves her flowers, doesn’t she?” she whispered.

  Lisa leaned over, lowering her voice. “When I stayed with her family at the royal palace, she’d be up at the crack of dawn just so she could spend as much time as possible in the palace gardens.”

  “What… like, actually tending them?” Anise asked, surprised.

  “Sure. There are whole areas of the gardens she won’t even allow the gardeners near,” Lisa replied, laughing. “She’s known among her people as the Flower Princess. Pretty apt.”

  “She’s next in line for the throne, right?”

  “Yep.”

  “I’m a bit worried for her world’s future, gotta admit…” Anise added, giggling quietly.

  Lisa cracked up further. “You’re not the only one!”

  Staring at the girl herself, Anise entered a thoughtful pose, hand on her hip and a single eyebrow raised. “It’s funny. On the one hand, I can see her being well-loved by her people, a good thing for a queen. But on the other, the distaste for anything that gets in the way of her and her flowers seems like a pretty major drawback for a monarch.”

  “You know she has a younger sister, right?” Lisa said. “Lily’s queen material, no question. She’s driven, focused, passionate… and she loves her sister more than anything.”

  “Is that a nickname as well?” Anise asked.

  “Her full name’s Liliana. Lily’s something only a few people call her, same as Kelly.”

  Tilting her head, Anise smirked. “You’d be one of these people?”

  Lisa winked. “Good guess. I’m the reason Kelly’s here on Aida, after all. Lily contacted me a few months back, when I was getting ready to enter the academy, asking me to help persuade her parents to let Kelly become an idol.”

  Wandering along behind the princess, taking a last look at the floats and enjoying the wonderful scents of flowers – including a number of Aidan native ones Anise wouldn’t even be able to name – Lisa went on to explain that she had helped formulate a plan to have Kelly travel to Aida to train.

  Doting parents who both expected their first daughter to take the throne, the King and Queen of Gran Manillo had readily agreed to Lisa’s request, sending their beloved daughter to gain knowledge of the world and a wealth of new experiences with which to improve and enrich her own world upon return.

  Unfortunately, Kelly had immediately been distracted by the wealth of new flora she discovered on Aida…

  “So you basically persuaded her parents in order to get her away from home for a while?” Anise said.

  Lisa stopped next to a float filled with flowers arranged in rainbow hues. “Something like that. Teamed up with Lily, she approached their parents, Kelly left a week later.”

  “Leaving Liliana in a position to take over any duties of her absent sister?” Anise suggested.

  “Exactly. Kelly gets to spend her time surrounded by greenery and Lily gets to do what she’s always wanted. At least until her sister returns. Though the world isn’t quite so lenient as to allow Kelly free reign on that front.”

  The princess finished her rounds and returned, doing her best to hide her disappointment that such a lovely day had to end.

  Lisa rearranged her face into a welcoming smile. “All done, Kelly?”

  “For now, yes. I could stare at beautiful flowers all day long, but alas, I do have several other important liaisons to keep today.” Kelly let out another sigh, this time of mild annoyance. “It is most vexing that even here on Aida I find myself hamstrung by a multitude of distractions.”

  “Just the nature of the game, I’m afraid,” Lisa said.

  “Yes. I understand, Lisa, worry not.” She stared for a moment, finally understanding what had been bothering her for a while now. “I believe this is my first time seeing you with your hair up.” She placed her hands together before her chin. “It suits you perfectly!”

  “Blame the missus,” Lisa said, jerking a thumb in the direction of said missus.

  Kelly’s face morphed into one of extreme shock twinned with minor embarrassment. “The… missus?”

  “Anise. I mean Anise,” Lisa said, chuckling at her best friend’s flustered state. “She wanted to see a ponytail, and who am I to refuse a request like that?”

  “You always thought so much of other people,” said the princess, apparently reminiscing.

  “Well, we can talk more later. Perhaps with a few drinks?” Lisa suggested.

  Kelly shook her head a few times, at which point a transformation took place; like waves lapping against a beach, the purple overtook the green until it was a single uniform shade, removing the barcode effect entirely. It has been said that purple is the colour of royalty, and Kelly’s hair truly embodied that idea in all its glory.

  She beamed at the two of them. “In that case, would you care to join me at my star-yacht?”

  Anise muttered, “Yep, she’s a princess, all right.”

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