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> Minor Mastery
Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 04:16 AM
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Zau stood on top of a hill, slowly practicing his taijutsu forms. He was still working on perfecting them, but in the meantime, he had a different goal. He had copied a technique from one of his teammates, Vivian, but in his use of it, had noticed a serious flaw-using it was a huge waste of chakra, even if none of the clones used any themselves. His eyes had shown him that Vivian didn't suffer the same issue whenever she used the technique, so he had invited her out to an open space within the Uchiha compound to figure it out. The hill led down to a small dock, which rested over a pond. There were no fish in the pond; the Uchiha used it to practice their fire techniques, since very few of them were capable of lighting water on fire.

He would wait patiently til Vivian arrived, at which point he would explain the issue. After doing so, he would simply ask-"How did you fix it?"

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:05 PM
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Of course, it seemed Vivian was taking her time getting here. Zau didn't have the luxury of taking his time, so it would be assumed that he'd ask her that when she did finally arrive. For now, he would work on fixing it on his own. Zau created a single clone using Kage Bunshin no Jutsu [Shadow Clone Technique], and in doing so, focused on how much chakra the clone was created with. He then immediately allowed the clone to disperse, and frowned when he realized just how much chakra he lost on creating a clone. The technique was almost wasteful.

Zau closed his eyes and considered how to fix this. Focusing his chakra himself wouldn't fix the issue-this was an issue for a clone to resolve, not him. Zau sighed and created three more clones.

Zau Prime stood with hands on hips as the clones each tried thinking of the issue. They all had Zau's brain, sure, but they could each explore different avenues of it at once. Zau could conceivably consider four different methods for fixing this issue at once, and put them each to use. "Perhaps we could try to will the chakra back to you on a burst?" "That doesn't solve the issue of the chakra returning when we go against our will. We won't always see the hit coming." "And in any case, I'm not sure that'd work anyways. Maybe it has to do with us holding onto our chakra or something?"

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:15 PM
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All three clones, as well as Zau, continued brainstorming the issue. As one, they all came to the same obvious conclusion-Vivian didn't have the issue! Zau had seen plenty of her clones go poof, his Sharingan should remember the flow of chakra. Zau thought back to the several times he had witnessed her clones defeat or dispersal. Sure enough, the memory played back in Zau's head flawlessly, as if it were happening right in front of him. He could see the flow of chakra easily enough, and could visualize what was supposed to happen; what he couldn't see was how.

There was a link between Zau and his clones. Their chakra was split evenly, so there had to have been some sort of tether he didn't understand. If he could develop his understanding of that tether, such that he could manipulate it, he could better understand how to transfer his own chakra back. Chakra Transfer...now there's a thought.

Zau didn't understand how Chakra Transfer worked-not perfectly. And, in searching his memories for any examples, he couldn't recall a moment where chakra had been passed between people while his Sharingan was active. The principle was likely the same though-he knew Chakra Transfer typically required physical contact, or at least mutual contact with a shared medium. The clone's tether was likely similar, though his eyes could tell him that it was nothing so simple as a literal tether of chakra. Alas, nothing could be easy.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:22 PM
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"Well, the best I can figure is that we give various methods a try. Worst case scenario, nothing works and we're right back where we started. There is always the off-chance that one of us would guess right though; and if that happens, then problem solved."

With that, the first Zau clone allowed itself to disperse, willing its chakra back to Zau in the process. Zau felt his stores get replenished a bit-but he knew it was nowhere close to what he should have received. So, simply willing the chakra back was a no-go. Still, even a failure was just an example of how not to do it. When the clone dispersed, its memories and experience came back to Zau too-he felt exactly how he had tried what he had, and so did his clones. They now knew, beyond a doubt, one method that would NOT work.

Zau turned to face the other two clones. Neither had thought willing the chakra back would do the trick, but neither had quickly come up with an alternate either. They'd need to come up with something though, if they were ever going to work it out. "Maybe its a handseal issue?" "No. Vivian's clones never use handseals as they disperse, they just go and the chakra comes back. Maybe it isn't to do with the clones at all-maybe it's on me?" "Well, I guess we can try it."

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:28 PM
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The clone Zau was conversing with then allowed itself to be dispersed as Zau focused on reabsorbing the chakra-however he could think to do that. To his dismay, that also didn't work. Again, his chakra was replenished, but not quite to the level it should have been. He thought back to his experience with the jutsu in the carriage. When he had employed the jutsu, it'd been during actual combat. He remembered feeling wiped out immediately after, but had attributed it to his clones all still using Sharingan.

Now he knew better-it was simply that they weren't giving him much chakra back. Back then, he hadn't bothered making a significant note of it, though he had watched the encounter with his Sharingan. He recalled that event, noting the details of the day with perfect clarity. What's different between Vivian's use and mine?

While he hadn't made note of it before, Zau's review made the memory fresh again, and brought it to the forefront of his attention. The battle experience was useful, no doubt; in the future, he reminded himself, he would do well not to neglect the experience that could offer him. "Maybe it's both? I send it back, you pull it back?" "I really don't think so. If that was the case, a surprise attack on you would cost me chakra, but it wouldn't-not mastered, anyways."

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:33 PM
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The final clone dispersed itself, and Zau knew immediately that it hadn't worked right. His chakra was depleted, and now, he was out of clones to talk this through with. He shrugged and created three more clones, knowing in doing so that once these were gone, he'd be done for the day. Vivian unfortunately hadn't made an appearance before Zau wore his chakra out. Wear out...maybe...

Suddenly, Zau struck at one of the clones. The clone dispersed, and while Zau didn't regain as much chakra as he wanted, he now understood a new aspect about how dispersal functioned. He could use the memories to perfect the method, to craft a clone that would return the chakra as intended. He gathered all of the experience he had collected from the clones, from his personal experiences with the technique, from observing Vivian, and he laid it all bare in his mind. Maybe...that's it?

The other two clones hopped away from Zau, each apparently understanding the new task before them. They were to fight against Zau. Zau smiled though-he was almost positive that he had figured it out just then. It was now simply a matter of putting it all together. "Well come on then. Come get me.'

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:38 PM
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Before the clones could move though, Zau simply dispersed both clones. In doing so, his chakra returned to him-all of it. Zau breathed a sigh of relief. Shadow Clones were incredibly useful for training, apparently-especially coupled with the memory retaining property of Sharingan. Zau could observe and commit to permanent memory many times the information someone else might gather.

Even so, just gathering the information was only half of the equation. The Sharingan again could assist, however-its highly analytical nature, the ability to perfectly observe the flow of chakra, once more combined with its perfect memory, allowed Zau to sift through and find details others may have missed. It certainly didn't hurt that Zau had always been the academic sort, prone to looking for patterns where they may not have existed and other such nonsense.

In any case, the combined experience of what he just worked out-including the precious insight of viewing a particular event from four different points of view at once-coalesced into what he needed. Zau nodded and sat back down, waiting for Vivian. She hadn't managed to assist him in improving his Shadow Clone technique, but there was a chance she could help with different aspects of Zau's training.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:44 PM
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Zau shook his head almost immediately and stood back up. He was on a roll; why stop now? Shadow Clone was a great technique, but a consistent failing of Zau's was that he never seemed to have as much chakra as his comrades. While this fact had, unbeknownst to Zau, begun to resolve itself, the fact remained that in order to make the most use of his techniques, making them cost significantly less chakra was a good idea.

Zau created as many clones as his present chakra level would allow-five. Considering he had already blown through a significant portion of his chakra, he found that oddly impressive. I knew I'd grown, but I didn't know I had that much. He dispersed the clones immediately, and was back to his pre-clone chakra levels immediately. Well, that confirms the first part, at least.

Zau held the clone handseal for some time, focusing his chakra, especially on spreading it thin. He knew that lowering the chakra cost was one of the easier things to do when training jutsu, but as his chakra thinned, he marveled at how simply it seemed to be coming to him. The chakra control he learned while training Rasengan seemed to be paying off. Zau released his chakra, creating clones once again. This time, there were six. Progress

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:53 PM
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Zau allowed the clones to disperse, once again regaining his chakra. He sat down and crossed his legs, this time focusing on the way his chakra dispersed through the clones. It was always an even split. The secret wasn't in learning to split his chakra-the jutsu did that for him. The secret, it seemed, was in being able to create a clone that could retain its form with less base chakra to work with. If Zau could cut that measure by just half, he could tremendously increase the viability of a swarm tactic with his Shadow Clones-and, considering the fact that he was also increasing his ability with Taijutsu these days, improving the viability of a swarm tactic was a good idea, to say the least.

Zau created just a single clone, but when he did so, he took great care to examine the clone's form. He observed how the chakra held his clone together; not an easy task, considering the fact that Sharingan could not discern a Shadow Clone from its original. Still though, with careful observation, Zau found a few telltale signs that the being before him was not truly living. Its shell was considerably weaker than Zau's own body, such that a relatively minor impact could disrupt the jutsu. Holding that shell together was the chakra creating the clone. Zau could see, thanks to his Sharingan, the points on the clone's body that were weaker than others. His manipulation of his own chakra in creating the clone was imperfect.

He created three additional clones, each of which activated their own Sharingan to observe the first. From multiple angles, Zau quickly analyzed the flaws and defects in his creation of a clone; once he was satisfied with the observation of a single clone, he, the original clone, and two of the new ones would turn their attention to another of the clones, taking note again of the flaws and defects in the creation of the clone. Zau repeated this process for each clone, then allowed all four to disperse. Thanks to their use of Sharingan, he didn't get his full chakra reserves back; however, what he did get back was perhaps even more important-detailed, meticulous study of multiple clones.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 3 2017, 05:59 PM
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It was showtime. Zau considered his recently gained knowledge, and this time, when he created his clones, he made sure to stretch his chakra as thinly as was safe. He knew where to reinforce the clones bodies, and where they could use less chakra. An important detail sang out at him though-clones always dispersed with a single blow. He could make the outer shell of the clone as weak as possible to conserve the most chakra. As long as the clone could still move properly, it wouldn't suffer for having less chakra, beyond having less capabilities.

Zau again created as many clones as possible. This time, that number was eight; considering the chakra expenditure he had used during his observations, however, that number was more than acceptable. At this rate, Zau may very well outdo Vivian at this particular technique. No...no, this is fine. I can make lots of clones, I can get my chakra back from them. I don't need much else. A single handseal isn't THAT big of a deal, I don't need to bother removing the need for it.

This time actually content with how his Shadow Clone was functioning, Zau sat down on the grass again, this time really waiting for Vivian to show. He allowed his small army of clones to disperse, and closed his eyes as he dosed off. What rest he could get to restore his chakra could only help his later training. He would need all the help he could get if he was going to accomplish all of his goals before the Chuunin exams.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Nov 4 2017, 05:15 AM
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Vivian arrived to find her teammate passed out on the grass, seemingly sleeping peacefully. Grumbling to herself at the audacity of him inviting her all the way out here to help with training only to be sleeping on the job. Sheesh. Truthfully she wasn't all that upset. From what she knew of Zau he wasn't the kind of person to be lazy, so this was most likely from exhaustion. Sitting down softly next to him as he dozed she could see the signs of his previous workout and nodded as if in affirmation of her hypothesis.

Plopping her back to the grass she looked up at the sky and watched the passage of the clouds high above, so free of care. A part of her envied them their simple nature. The same part that always wondered what would have become of her had she not joined the academy when she did, or been up to the task even. That had been no guarantee, but a spur of the moment decision that had shaped her life these last few years. To think that even just two years ago the most worrisome thought was that she might not be able to understand some trade agreement and now she was working towards... well. Whatever.

Her mood soured she rolled over towards her companion and gave him a nudge. If her presence hadn't been enough to wake him up she was getting him up now if only to distract her from her own thoughts.

"Oi, mister fancy eyes. I didn't know you were perfecting a nap no jutsu."

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 4 2017, 05:56 AM
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Zau snapped awake as Vivian tapped him. Judging by the sun's new position, he'd been asleep for about an hour. Not long enough to completely recuperate, but good enough for now. He rolled up to a seated position, took some time to rub his eyes, and yawned wide before standing up again.

"You're late. I was going to get your help, but I ended up figuring it out all on my own. You remember back in Shima, when I copied your Kage Bunshin? Well, you probably remember that I wasn't very good at it back then. Now though..." Zau formed the clone handseal, a seal Vivian was no doubt quite familiar with. Zau rushed his chakra through the technique, putting his lessened chakra cost to use. A series of bursts of smoke later, and there were 13 Zaus standing before Vivian, the original Zau holding the clone seal, and twelve clones standing behind him.

Zau broke his seal and turned around, examining his handiwork. Truly, this wasn't even what he was most capable of. He judged his actual limit, assuming full chakra levels, to be in the low twenties. His chakra hadn't completely replenished though, so for now, this was all he could manage.

"Now, I think I'm pretty close to you, as far as this jutsu goes."

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Nov 4 2017, 06:11 AM
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Vivian watched silently as her teammate woke himself up. So he really had been sleeping. Now she felt a little bit bad, but only a little. He had called her here after all even if she was a tad late. Nodding at his question she watched as he performed her favorite jutsu. Looking around and doing a quick head count she had to admit she was a little impressed. Remembering the hell she went through to be able to pull this off herself she had more respect for the other genin.

"Pretty close eh?"

Standing up herself she walked past the Zau that had been holding the seal still and matched his clones in number with one now behind each of his and similarly facing away from them. The original looked back at the original Zau with a mischievous grin.

"Well I can't very well let myself get outdone in a few months can I? You're making me look like I'm slacking here."

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 4 2017, 07:31 AM
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"To be fair, you helped more than you know. My Sharingan remembered everything your clones did, the way their chakra flowed, how they were formed, so on and so forth. I was able to use your perfected technique as a template to enhance mine. So, thank you for your help."

Zau grinned as he finished the statement though-"Buuuut, this is only a little better than half of what I could manage if I was at full strength." The grin changed in demeanor, to something more mischievously vicious. "I've been working on other things too, you know."

As if on cue, Zau's clones immediately spun on Vivian's; two clones each of his used a different taijutsu to strike at Vivian's clones. Two clones attacked with a simple straight punch; two more attacked with roundhouse kicks. Two others with ordinary kicks. Yet two more attacked with spinning punches. A pair attacked with vicious elbows, and another pair attacked with sudden knee strikes. The movements of every clone, with exception to the ones that attacked with the roundhouses, moved so fast it blurred. The demonstration of his improved Taijutsu technique was enough to show what he meant. "The Chuunin exams are in a few months. Are you ready?"

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Nov 5 2017, 04:03 PM
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Vivian raised an eyebrow as she listened to Zau explain how she had indirectly helped him with his training. "Good to know you were watching me that closely." Teasing aside the display of taijutsu was quite impressive. Her eyes had a difficult time keeping track of his movements. When had he gotten this strong? Each of her clones reeled from the blows but held fast. Compared to the punishment they had endured at the hands of her Tengu sparring partners these hits practically tickled.

Her mind drifted to her conversation with her sensei and kage. Was she ready for... the chuunin exams? What did the exams matter except as a measuring tool for her real goal? What was it they had said, that not even the two of them could take that man. In a life or death situation was she capable of fighting them both and winning? Unbidden a laugh rose to her lips at the thought. It took a few moments for her to calm herself before she could address Zau again, mirth still apparent in her voice.

"Apparently not. Let's address that."

Each clone would launch a strike with the palm of their hands striking their counterpart internally in the chest before dispersing leaving only the two genin behind. Meanwhile Vivian would displace herself backwards via shunshin, but would do so as she had learned earlier. There would be no seals used. Entering the traditional Hyuugan fighting stance she gave him the first move.

"Ready when you are."

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 01:08 AM
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Zau smirked; he had never actually fought against Vivian before. Even so, he knew what to watch for-clones, needles, explosives. And here she was pulling out the Gentle Fist. Zau knew he probably should have expected that too, but for some reason, it still caught him by surprise.

"I half thought you didn't know the Gentle Fist. Glad I finally get to see it."

Zau activated his Sharingan, allowing his onyx eyes to burn to crimson. The dual tomoe of his eyes swirled around his pupil for a moment before settling into the same relative position around his pupil. His fingers met each other in the clone seal, creating a trio of clones around him that charged towards Vivian. Their muscles were relaxed, despite the run-Vivian might have found it odd, if she was watching such details.

Once they reached her, assuming they didn't find matching opponents along the way, one clone would lead the attack, striking with a simple kick while the other two held back.

The original Zau didn't just stop acting upon creating the clones, however. While they were charging for Vivian, Zau was performing handseals. Once the clones reached Vivian, he launched a mote of flame from his mouth that sailed through the air to land at Vivian's feet. When it landed, it burst apart, casting a small smokescreen over the area. Round one.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 01:51 AM
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Vivian shrugged in response to Zau's comment about her fighting style.

"It feels... incomplete, if I'm being honest. Like something's missing. Maybe that's just my inexperience talking."

Ah yes, the Sharingan. She had a few things she wanted to test against that fabled bloodline. It was Vivian's turn to smile as she created a trio to match Zau's without handseals, her hands already beginning to form handseals for another jutsu. The clones she created weren't meant to deal any sort of lasting damage but would aim to destroy his clones if possible while dodging his return attack. There was no need to reveal more than she had to, she already knew her own clones were more durable than his.

At about the same time he launched his smoke Vivian completed Kirigakure, covering the area in a thick mist. Retreating into the cover of her jutsu she drew a pair of senbon and threw them at where he had last been then closed here eyes and listened carefully for which way he dodged. She was going to assume here that he was going to dodge even just on instinct. Then she was going to Shunshin (again, no seals) right to the side but much closer and throw another pair of senbon at almost point blank range.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 05:02 AM
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Vivian's clones would be in for quite a shock. Zau's clones may have been less durable than Vivian's, that was true-but Zau's new fighting style gave him an unexpected edge in taijutsu. As they made their attacks, Zau's clones responded in kind, attacking with their own lightning fast taijutsu, at speeds and directions aimed to cut off the attacks from Vivian's clones. Through judicious use of Uke [Block] from each clone (which moved so fast it blurred), and the respective uses of Ashige [Kick] (which also moved so fast it blurred), Niji [Elbow] (which, yet again, moved so fast it blurred), and finally Massugu Dageki [Straight Strike] (do I have to say it? Of course it was so fast it blurred), the Vivians would find that their durability didn't provide them quite as much protection as they believed.

Still, their durability was an issue; it was unlikely that the attacks of Zau's clones had managed to undo Vivian's clones. But the unexpected counterattack may well have thrown them off enough for Zau's clones to press the attack; if so, they would, each launching into a barrage of Zau's trained taijutsu, arms and legs flailing too fast to track, and too unpredictably to prepare a proper counter. Even as the mist thickened, the clones were within taijutsu range with one another; at this range, the clones could see well enough to fight, and pressed their assault.

~~~

As the mist enveloped the area, Zau swore under his breath and hopped a few feet to his right. His instinct was rewarded-some of Vivian's damn needles sailed past him, right where he had been before. Zau's Sharingan couldn't help him in this mist, not at range-but then Vivian appeared next to him, where he had been only moments before-the mist prevented sight at long range, but there was visibility within five feet, and Zau had not hopped five feet. He hesitated for a moment-just one, just to observe what Vivian was planning, just long enough to see her senbon in hand. At this range, it was unlikely that any given ninja could react well enough to deal with the senbon. But Zau wasn't any given ninja-he had trained specifically to move fast enough with his attacks to interrupt an opposing attack. As Vivian's arm extended to throw the senbon, Zau's own right arm flew up, (yes, so fast it blurred), completing an Uke [Block] that prevented Vivian's arm from fully extending.

Zau immediately launched into a counter attack, launching a blurry-speed Massugu Dageki with his left, aimed to catch Vivian square in the jaw. If the blow landed, Zau, like his clones, would press his advantage, stepping quickly past her and driving his knee towards her gut with a Shoushitsu [Rising Knee] (the audience is probably tired of hearing this by now, but yes-it also was so fast it blurred before normal vision). Zau was being rough, but Vivian had started the fight with sharp projectiles-the training wheels were coming off. And besides-Zau needed to use this opportunity to truly see how effective his fighting style and training was.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Nov 7 2017, 08:28 AM
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While perhaps less shocked than Zau would have liked, Vivian's clones would still have a hard time keeping pace with the speed of his taijutsu. However they knew what to expect having already taken the blows once before. Meanwhile they themselves still had a few tricks up their sleeves. Switching combat styles with a burst of speed the moment the follow up strikes started they all dropped to all fours to avoid the incoming attacks before leaping back up in a more primal attack.

Meanwhile with the main bodies Vivian gave Zau a reproving look. "Swearing is bad, mkay?" Three things happened in rapid secession that might leave even Zau for all the fanciness of his eyes with his head spinning. First a pair of clones appeared flanking her on either side, each attempting to block Zau's moves and restrain him while her main body began to pull away. To add effectiveness to their strategy they too would use the four legs style to increase their speed and strength, and this would be the first time the main body saw this ability of hers. Secondly before she moved away Vivian dropped her senbon, but not before activating the exploding tags that were on them. Lastly with a cheeky wink she would Shunshin back into the safety of the mist leaving Zau to deal with a grapple that had a deadly timer.

The tag itself had a timer for 1 post rather than impact so it would not go off upon hitting the ground. The logic being if Zau had an answer he would pull it out immediately rather than risk being blown up, for he would logically not know how long it would take the tag to go off. Additionally if he didn't have an answer this way she wasn't risking blowing up her teammate for no reason, and the clones she had left behind knew to shield him from the worst of it should it come to that.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 06:18 AM
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Admittedly, the clones did not expect the reaction they got; each copy of Vivian dropping to all fours was an odd move, and nothing could have prepared them for it adequately. However, as they dropped to all fours, that put their faces at a prime location for another technique; all of Zau's clones, as one, would ram their knees into the Vivian clones' faces, using the Shoushitsu [Rising Knee] technique. And, of course, the movement was trained such that the clones' knees blurred out of sight for a moment. Hit or miss, however, Zau's clones would immediately burst apart, given what Zau Prime was doing.

As for Zau Prime, he was at least using his Sharingan, so he was able to see the clones burst into existence around him. There wasn't much he could do to stop them from grabbing him though-Vivian's ability to create clones without so much as a handseal was a problem. As Zau was held by the clones, Vivian dropped a tagged needle and jumped away. Zau sighed-he hadn't wanted to use this jutsu on clones, but it seemed he had no choice. This was the moment in which he dispelled his clones, that he could muster the chakra he needed to pull this off.

In the palm of each hand, a spinning cloud of chakra formed. Zau twisted his arms and wrists whichever way he needed to land a palm on each clone holding him. They may have been more durable, but there was no way a clone was standing up to a Rasenha.

There was still the matter of the explosive, however. Zau picked up the needle and threw it such that it would hit the ground roughly 15 feet away, in the direction Zau's Sharingan would have seen Vivian lean prior to her Shunshin-every genin worth his salt knew how far Shunshin could go. An explosion at that range wouldn't kill her, but it would definitely hurt or daze her; what's more, it could potentially clear some of the mist for a short time. Zau didn't move for now; with his chakra levels what they were, he was getting to the point where he'd need to start making decisive moves. One move was simple, however-he deactivated his Sharingan. At this range, in the mist, Sharingan was useless, and he wasn't going to waste his chakra on a pointless drain.

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Uchiha, Zau
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