A.N. - Sorry for the cliff-hanger everyone, I just wanted to see how it would feel. Conclusion: … HOW COULD PEOPLE DO THAT TO THE READERS? IT JUST FEELS SO TERRIBLE! I promise all of you that there will only be three conditions under which I will leave a cliffhanger: One, I feel rushed. Two, I have writer's block. And three, I feel it's appropriate to build suspense.

To anyone who cares, this Chapter will probably take me longer to finish. This is because I'll be making up dragon-based techniques as I go, so it'll be kinda unpredictable.

I will not give Naruto knowledge of who his father is until the invasion. I will however have Jiraiya reveal his mother in a flashback, so be ready for that.

Speaking of Flashbacks, there will be several in this chapter, as well as the scene where he fights Gaia. These will show parts of the training that Mercury and Jiraiya have put Naruto through, as well as some of the first manifestations of his new powers.

Anyways, let's get on with the fic!

"Get up."= person talking

`Stupid Ero-sennin.'= person thinking

"I am free as flight."= Summon/Dragonoid form speaking

`This is freedom.'= Summon/Dragonoid form thinking

"You have much to learn."= Nature Spirit speaking

`Stupid kid.'= Nature Spirit thinking

"Fire style: Fire Dragon Missile."= Jutsu

Free as Flight Chapter 2-Fruits of Tor-I mean Training!

Part Two

*Exam Arena: Spectator's Stands*

The audience is silent as all their brains attempt to register the strange image they have just been presented with.

They have just watched the impossible. The supposed "Dead Last" of the Ninja Academy just entered the arena looking like a near-perfect clone of the Leaf Village's greatest hero. Then, in front of every single person watching him, he vows to beat an older, more experienced Genin into the ground. One that is the prodigy of one of the strongest clans in Konoha. Then, as soon as their fight begins, he is, shockingly, the one to draw first blood.

*Arena Floor: Seconds Before*

The match is called as all the other Genin jump up to the waiting area to watch. Naruto and Neji both take their starting stances. Neji's stance is a low Juuken stance, designed to cause as much damage as possible while presenting a small target. Naruto however, takes an extremely unusual stance: Crouched low, left hand on the ground to support his balance, it seems almost bestial. However, this is contradicted by the strange grace he emits. As he takes this stance, Naruto's right hand retreats into the back of his trench coat, as though reaching for a Ninjato.

When Neji opens his mouth to speak, a smug grin on his face, Naruto cuts him off.

"Don't even try to give me that `I'm fated to lose' crap." The blonde says, "I've already told you I don't buy it."

Enraged at this obvious disrespect, Neji's Byakugan flares violently and he realizes that Naruto's eyes are still closed.

Suddenly, both combatants tense and blur into action. When Neji reappears, he has his right arm extended to strike Naruto's chest. However, much to everyone's shock, Naruto is not there. Instead, he is falling to the ground ten feet behind Neji, a strange, single-edged knife in his right hand. On the orange and blue blade, one can see a thin line of blood. The reason for this becomes obvious when a diagonal slash opens up in Neji's jacket along with a shallow line leading from along the top of his extended arm to go across his chest.

Turning to face his opponent in shock, Neji sees Naruto land and turn to face him, eyes still closed.

`Impossible,' the prodigy thinks, `to land a hit on me is difficult in of itself. To do so blind is impossible.'

As Neji gets past his shock, he watches as Naruto's eyes finally open, only to gasp in surprise as he sees how drastically they've changed from what he had memorized at the beginning of the month. Rather than the calming ocean-blue they were before, they have become an intense, electric-blue color that seem to glow with power. Furthermore, he specifically remembered that, while the blonde's pupils had been unusually oblong in shape, they had still been round and black. Now however, they are thin, red, reptilian slits that carry an enormous level of killing intent to the point of focus.

Taken off-guard by these changes, Neji realizes too late that Naruto has sheathed his knife and has started doing hand signs as a semi-visible sphere of gale-force winds forms to his right. Ending on the sign for dragon, our hero calls out his jutsu.

"Wind style: Cyclonic Dragon Missile!"

When he says this, the sphere suddenly explodes into movement, forming the head, arms, and body of a large yellow-eyed Chinese dragon as it shoots toward Neji.

As Neji awakens from his shock, he sees the dragon bearing down on him. He attempts to jump out of the way, but his left hand gets caught by the leading edge of the cyclone, the wind blades creating several painful, but not serious, cuts on contact. As he lands, Neji watches the dragon smash through several trees behind him before dissipating as it strikes the wall.

In a sad attempt to regain some of his earlier bluster, Neji begins speaking again.

"You see?" he says, "That pathetic display of power did nothing to change the ultimate outcome of this fight. As I have said before, a loser will always be a loser. There is nothing you can do to change that fact."

He goes to continue his rant, but is once again interrupted by Naruto. Who is at this point, fighting to contain his laughter.

"Neji," he says, snickering, "you may talk big, but let's tally up the score here. I've already hit you twice, both times managing to draw blood. Meanwhile, you haven't even gotten one hit in on me. The bluster is kinda worthless at this point."

This nonchalant attitude predictably infuriates Neji. He rushes the blonde and begins striking at Naruto's chakra points, attempting to disable him quickly. Naruto's only response is to weave through the strikes as though dancing. It's as though he knows every strike Neji will attempt to make.

*Flash-back*

A beat-up Naruto has collapsed on the ground in front of a large tree. His orange jumpsuit is shredded and tattered; with has large holes all around the torso. Suddenly, a bundle of black and blue cloth falls into his lap, accompanied by a scroll with the kanji for Jyuuken Analysis an it.

Standing up, Naruto starts changing into the clothes in the bundle. As he removes the black shirt he wears under his jacket, modifications to his seal can be seen. Surrounding the main seal is a pair of Dragons with their tails intertwined. In the center, the spiral has been changed to resemble a long Chinese dragon.

Finished changing (A.N.-you'll get a description of the new threads later), Naruto hears Mercury's human form walk into the clearing. Walking behind him, she wraps her arms around his neck and nibbles on his ear.

"You know," she says seductively, "if you want, I could make up a new sort of reward for your progress."

At this, Naruto's face glows an intense, shining red as a small dribble of blood leaks from his nose.

"I'm joking," Mercury laughs, "I do however, want you to read through that entire scroll and memorize it."

"Why?" Naruto asks, confused.

"Your first opponent is a Hyuuga, right?" Mercury responds, "Then he'll use this style. Know your enemy."

Nodding, Naruto starts in on the scroll as Mercury sits across the clearing from him.

*End Flashback*

"Hold still dammit!" Neji screams in frustration as Naruto dodges yet another strike.

"Okay!" Naruto says happily as he stops moving.

Seeing this, Neji strikes without thinking at Naruto's heart; only to find his arm caught in a steel-firm grip an inch from his target. Deciding to finally register the shock that has been growing throughout the entire match, Neji sums it all up in one thought.

`Holy shit!' he thinks, `This guy is insane, he lets me strike at his heart only to stop me at the last second!'

"So Neji," Naruto says quietly, "Why do you hate Hinata so much anyway. I mean as far as I can tell, she hasn't ever used that seal of yours on you."

"Release me and I might tell you." Neji says sharply, thinking, `He knows about the Caged Bird Seal?'

Naruto makes a great show of thinking when Neji says this, cocking his head to the side and placing a finger on his chin. He then turns to Neji with a face-splitting grin.

"You're right, I could do that," Naruto says cheerfully, "but I don't trust you not to attack me while my guard is down."

Suddenly, Neji strikes out at Naruto's shoulder with his free hand. Only for the blonde to switch the hand holding Neji's arm to the right and, twisting his body impossibly, grabs the offending appendage in the crook of his right knee. He then proceeds to push them both up into the air with his left leg and with a complex maneuver, brings them both back down with Naruto sitting on top of Neji's back, the prodigy's arms restrained.

"That wasn't smart." Naruto says coldly, "You just attacked an enemy who has you completely at his mercy. Worse, you attacked someone who uses a fighting style you know nothing about. I don't know what kinda bullshit your elders fed you, but the Jyuuken is not invincible. I can name five Taijutsu styles that are perfect to counter it off the top of my head.

"In fact," he says, jumping off Neji and releasing him, "I can show you one of them right now. Get up and take your stance."

Standing up, Neji takes the stance he started the fight with, Byakugan flaring. Meanwhile, Naruto sets his body perpendicular to Neji. Setting his weight back on his left leg, he extends his right leg forward. He then sets his arms parallel to each other over his chest and faces his opponent.

"First Stance," he says, "Stone Dragon."

As Neji rushes him, Naruto stands completely still. He then blurs into movement the moment Neji throws his strike, smashing the palm out of the way and punching the boy hard enough in the stomach to crack three ribs, sending him flying backwards.

As he slips into unconsciousness, Neji manages to hear Naruto say one last thing.

"When you come too, come see me about your little seal problem."

With these words, Neji blacks out completely.

The audience is silent as the prodigy hits the ground. The proctor comes down and checks him before raising his voice to be heard.

"First Match winner, Naruto Uzumaki."

Several moments of silence pass, before suddenly, the crowd explodes into cheers. Many people are heard chanting Naruto's name. Grinning, Naruto raises his arms in victory, allowing himself to revel in this feeling.

*Kage Box*

The three village leaders are stunned by what they've seen. E has even gone so far as to stand from his seat and lean over the railing in front of him. Sarutobi just grins and shakes his head at the boy's antics while the disguised Orochimaru begins shaking in anticipation at the sight before him. Turning to Sarutobi, he voices his interest in a question.

"Lord Hokage, what is the style this Naruto is using against the Hyuuga boy called?" the serpent asks eagerly, "I have seen many hand-to-hand styles before, but none have matched this one in pure speed and power."

"I agree Sarutobi," E says, turning to face the other two, "I've never even heard of this Uzumaki clan. What do they specialize in?"

"Truthfully, there is no Uzumaki clan." Sarutobi says sadly, "At least not anymore."

His mood changing, he continues, "I'm not sure what Naruto's specialties are now, but considering how he takes after his mother, you can be sure that he will excel in whatever he chooses."

"Well," E says happily, "in any case it's good to see someone with such spirit nowadays. If all your genin are like this, I can't wait to see the rest of the matches."

Saying this, he looks down at the celebrating boy with a great smile on his face.

`This will be a career to remember.'

A.N.- Whew! That one took a long time.

This was actually my first ever fight scene in which the battle wasn't finished in the first strike. I have to say, I'm quite proud of it.

I've made Naruto much stronger in this fic, and in this scene, he may come across as overpowered. This is not the case. The only reason Naruto won so easily was because he had several things going for him. First, his new appearance and attitude threw Neji off guard; I mean come on, if you spend a month expecting to fight a loud, hyperactive, orange-wearing idiot only to end up fighting a calm, collected, damn-near clone of the Fourth Hokage, you're gonna be surprised.

Second, Naruto used a tactic I think suits his personality perfectly, intentionally frustrating his opponent. You'll notice that Neji spent most of the fight in a state of frustration due to the things Naruto was saying to him.

Third, Naruto got under Neji's guard with the first strike. For an overconfident guy like Neji, this would be devastating, resulting in a steep drop in confidence.

Finally, Naruto was an idiot with little practical training in canon. However, we all noticed that he seemed to absorb lessons like a fucking sponge. Take away the idiot factor and add ridiculously intense training in a powerful fighting style, and BAM! You got a Chunin-level fighter that can wipe the floor with an overconfident Genin.

On another note, I've created a poll on my profile where you can vote for who the first girl to fall in love with Naruto will be. Please vote there, if you vote in just your reviews, I will not count it. The next chapter will not come out until I believe the poll is as done as it'll get, so vote if you want to read more.

I am still taking suggestions on girls to add to the harem. Remember, they must be unusual pairings and not one of the girls below. If they're Shippuden and I can't find a way to bring them in early, wait until I start the Shippuden saga.

The harem so far consists of: Mercury, Yugito, Tayuya, Gaia (female Gaara), Anko, Hana Inuzaka, Isaribi, and maybe Guren.

So read and review, vote, suggest, and stay free.