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Authors: Susannah McFarlane

Kimono Code

BOOK: Kimono Code
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Emma Jacks' heart sank when she was paired with Nema in karate class.

‘Okay, girls,' cried Ms Sipes, the karate instructor. ‘Take your starting positions, and remember, karate is about defence, not attack. It is a peaceful art.'

Someone should have told mean-girl Nema that.

Emma stood on the karate mat facing Nema. She bowed down in the traditional display of respect for your opponent. Nema smirked at Emma, made the tiniest bow and then moved towards Emma, raising her arm. She went to strike her arm down on Emma's shoulder, but Emma blocked it with her arm and pushed her other arm out to Nema's side. Nema didn't see that one coming and was too slow to block it. Points to Emma.

‘Go, Em!' cried Eve.

‘Nice work, Emma. Good play,' called Ms Sipes. ‘Now, back to starting positions, please.'

The girls began again, each trying out the blocks, strikes and kicks they had been learning. It was nearly the end of the round and the points were equal. Emma and Nema stood, ready for the last movement. Then, as Nema advanced, Ms Black, a teacher at the school, entered the gym. Nema looked over to see Ms Sipes turning away to talk to Ms Black. Quickly, Nema turned back to Emma, moved forwards, put her right hand hard on Emma's shoulder and kicked into the back of Emma's knee. Emma's knee buckled, and she fell to the ground.

Ms Sipes looked back just in time to see Nema holding Emma to the mat. ‘Points and round to Nema. Good match, girls.'

‘Hey, you can't do that!' gasped Emma to Nema.

‘Do what?' asked Nema, her black eyes round with pretend innocence.

‘You kicked me in the knee,' cried Emma. ‘That's an illegal move!'

‘Oh, is it?' asked Nema. ‘But no one saw, so I guess I win. And I'm going to beat you again at the karate competition on Friday. I'm going to win. I'm always better than you, Emma, don't you know that?'

No, you're not. You're just meaner
, thought Emma.

Nema made Emma so angry.
Why did she think she could do that kind of stuff? Nema was just so, so
… Emma couldn't even think of the word, she couldn't think of anything. Thoughts rushed into her head and were knocked out by more thoughts, even angrier than the thought before, and then all of the thoughts began to swirl around in her head until it felt like a whirlpool and Emma was almost drowning in it. To make matters worse, Nema was still standing over her, smiling her thin, mean smile.

‘What's wrong, Emma?' asked Nema, smirking. ‘Nothing to say?'

‘Now, girls,' said Ms Sipes. ‘What's happening over here?'

‘Nothing, Ms Sipes,' said Nema sweetly. ‘I was just helping Emma up.'

‘Really?' asked Ms Sipes, looking suspiciously at Nema. Then she looked down at Nema's belt. ‘Nema, why are you wearing a red belt? You are a yellow belt.'

‘Oh, that,' replied Nema airily with a little flick of her fringe. ‘I just thought the red looked better with the black.'

‘It's not a fashion statement, Nema,' said Ms Sipes. ‘It's a badge of achievement. It's an honour to be awarded a belt. To wear a colour you have not been awarded is disrespectful.'

Ms Sipes talked a lot about respect. She was new to the school and had introduced the lunchtime karate classes. She had explained that karate was about control, self-discipline and respect. ‘It helps you let your best qualities shine through,' she had said. All the girls loved it, particularly when they learnt they could even beat the boys. Emma's best friends—Isi, Hannah and Elle—went to Karate Club every Monday. (Ms Tenga had really encouraged them to join). So, unfortunately, did Nema and her mean-girl-in-training, Laila.

Nema and Emma used to be friends, even best friends, in kindergarten. But, when they got to school, Nema changed and became mean and bossy. Emma could hardly remember what Nema was like when she was nice.

‘Just keep away from her and do your own thing,' Emma's mum had suggested, but that wasn't so easy. Emma and Nema were in the same class and they both liked sport, so they spent a lot of time doing the same things. They were in the same gym squad, the swim team, the netball squad (although not in the same team) and now the karate club. Ms Black had encouraged Nema and Laila to join.

‘You could get a
belt,' she had said, winking at Nema and Laila. ‘I really believe that, without a
of a doubt.'

Emma, Hannah, Isi, Elle and now Eve, who had come to the school last term and was becoming a good friend, were in one girls' group, while Nema, Laila, Mel and Darcy were in the other. Nema walked off the mat, her group all smiling and hi-fiving her, and left Emma sitting there. Slowly, Emma got up and walked over glumly to Hannah, Isi and Elle.

‘Em, you would have had her if she hadn't made that move,' Hannah consoled her friend.

‘Thanks,' said Emma. ‘But why didn't Ms Sipes say anything?'

‘I don't think she saw what happened,' said Elle. ‘Ms Black started talking to her just as Nema began her last move. But, hey, don't stress, Em. Are you really surprised? You'd expect Nema to cheat, wouldn't you?'

‘Maybe, but not to get away with it,' said Emma. ‘It's not right.'

Isi looked around. Eve had left to go to the toilet, and it was now just the four of them. ‘She doesn't get away with the most important things,' Isi reminded her. ‘You and
have never let her.'

Emma smiled. It was true. Emma had been recruited to the secret agency
and, as Special Agent EJ12, was one of its best spies, cracking codes and going all over the world to stop
agents from carrying out their evil deeds. She wasn't really surprised when she found out Nema had been recruited to
, but while Emma knew Nema was in
, Nema didn't know about Emma.

‘And Nema doesn't suspect a thing,' said Elle, who had just been recruited into the Transport Division.

‘You could say she's in the dark about it,' joked Isi, one of Emma's best friends and an agent in
's Science and Invention Division. Isi liked to make things, including jokes, not all of them funny (although they were always hilarious to Isi).

The girls changed back into their uniforms and went out on to the school oval to eat their lunches.

Halfway through her sushi, Isi suddenly looked up. ‘It would be so cool if we could go on a mission together,' she said.

‘But we couldn't all go,' said Hannah, looking down at her sandwich.

Emma, Isi and Elle looked uncomfortably at each other. Hannah was the only one in the group who wasn't in the
Agency even though they had all been sure she would be. When Hannah had told them last term that she had entered a writing competition, Emma wondered if it was another
secret recruitment test. When Hannah found out she had won the competition, Emma suspected it was, and when Hannah said that she had to pick up her prize from a light shop, the three girls were certain that Hannah had been recruited. So they were all really surprised—and really crushed—when Hannah turned up at school the next day with a photo of a light, a funky desk lamp, she'd been given by the sponsors of the competition. There was also a framed certificate that was awarded in assembly. Emma, Isi and Elle had clapped hard for their friend when she went up to receive it, but they were all so disappointed. Hannah kept smiling, but no one was as disappointed as she was.

‘I was so sure that competition was a
test,' said Emma, putting her arm around her friend.

‘It doesn't matter,' said Hannah.

‘Hey,' said Isi, changing the subject, ‘your braces are coming off tomorrow; your teeth will look amazing!'

‘Hope so, Is,' said Hannah, managing only the thinnest of smiles.

‘And you've been so patient about them,' said Emma. ‘Putting up with Nema's cracks about being a metal-mouth.'

It was true, Hannah had been patient.
Hannah was good at being patient, but how long,
wondered Emma,
would she have to wait before
recognised her talents?
Emma didn't think it was fair and could feel her face flushing and her thoughts getting worked up all over again.
Why couldn't
see how good Hannah would be? Had
changed its recruitment tests?
Emma wished things wouldn't keep changing. She liked things being predictable and she liked things being fair. Hannah wasn't in
, and now Nema had won the karate match by cheating. Nothing at all seemed fair.

BOOK: Kimono Code
13.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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