The Preliminaries
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After the Hokage had finished his speech a Jonin body flickered next to him.

"Please allow me to take over now lord Hokage," he said while taking a knee.

"Go ahead," said the third as he made his way off the stage to join the other instructors watching the exam.

The jonin turned to face us," I'm Gekko Hayate and I'll be the referee for the third test of the chunin exams. But before we can properly start the test there is still something we have to do, a preliminary to see who can take part."

"What do you mean preliminary? What did we go through the whole death forest for then?" I heard someone shout.

"To be honest the first two exams were too easy so there are too many applicants left for the third test. As the Hokage-sama just said many important figures will be there to watch the 3rd test so we have a limited amount of time, so we have to cut down on the number of applicants. Is there anyone who wishes to abstain from the 3rd test? Due to my explanation or any other complications?"

"Umm, yea I wish to give up," said Kabuto stepping forward. Of course, I knew it was just a ruse, he wasn't really injured. He just made it until this stage so he could spy and collect info for Orochimaru.

"Alright, that's one less person which makes 20 left for the test, anyone else wish to withdraw?"

"Umm, Sasuke-kun you should probably withdraw from the test, I can tell that the mark on your neck is still bothering you. What if you get hurt!"

"Be quiet"

"NO! What if you get hurt again. I can see that you've been trying to hide your pain this whole time. I'll tell sensei about the mark then" said Sakura starting to tear up.

"Stop talking about the mark," said Sasuke in a cold voice grabbing Sakura's arm to get her to stop talking.

"What I do is none of your business. Sakura I've told you before, all I want is revenge on a certain person. I don't care about being a chunin or anything like that. I just want to test my strength against other strong people. If you try to stop that from happening I won't forgive you."

At this point I started to feel bad for Sakura, she really did just care a lot for Sasuke," Hey she's just worried about you."

"Naruto, I also want to fight you," he said while giving me a probing stare.

I was about to reply when the Proctor interrupted our conversation.

"If there is no one else that wishes to quit then we can begin the preliminaries. It will be a one on one battle between applicants. Treat it as you would a real fight. There are basically no rules for the test. The fight will continue until one of the fighters dies, is knocked out, or gives up. If I think a winner has been determined I'll step in to stop the fight so there aren't too many unnecessary deaths. The thing that determines who you fight is," We all jumped up into the audience section and looked at where the Proctor was pointing.

There was a large electronic scoreboard on the ceiling and it was quickly blurring through the names of the 20 contestants that were left.

As the names became less blurred the applicants in the first fight were displayed.

Naruto Uzumaki vs Rock Lee.

Ahh shit, I guess everything can't stay the same as it was before, it wouldn't make sense. But that means I won't be able to move on to the third test this time, well even if I really wanted to there was no way I can beat Lee if he decides to use the 8 hidden gates.

With a flash, Lee body Flickered onto the stage and looked at me with anticipation. I jumped down from the audience viewing perch to join him on the stage.

"Let the first match of the preliminaries Begin," said the proctor Waving his hand to indicate the start of the fight.

In an instant, Lee was on me with a Kick. I ducked his kick and tried to sweep his legs from under him with a kick of my own. Lee easily jumped to dodged my kick and I was forced to roll to dodge his downward axe kick that barely missed my head. I used the momentum of my roll and quickly used multi shadow clone Jutsu to summon close to 20 clones.

I didn't divide my chakra evenly between them because Lee had no way of knowing which one of them was the real me. I instead used as little chakra as I could to summon them and made them charge towards Lee. I wanted to get a feel for his fighting style and this was the perfect perfect way to collect information. Lee quickly dealt with all the clones in a blur of kicks and punches.

"If you want to beat me you're going to have to do better," he said with a small smile on his face.

"Don't worry I'm just getting started."