There are sayings such as 'might makes right', 'to the victors go the spoils', and 'the winners write history.' One of these sayings is that 'power is justice.' Following this line of thought, the mantra 'cute is justice' proves itself to be true, as cuteness is the greatest source of might that this world offers. On the local, national, and worldwide levels, cuteness ultimately determines everything important. The importance of cuteness arises from the existence of the 'Dao of Moe'. The Dao of Moe is the grand dao from which human beings can gain power. Moe, or in other words, cuteness, is harnessed by a subset of the population known as cultivators. Cultivators can use the Dao of Moe in their daily lives to overpower or beguile ordinary people. At the lowest levels, it simply makes one more persuasive, but at the highest levels it allows people to smash mountains and split oceans.
As the sun rose above haphazardly arranged streets lorded over by apartment buildings and skyscrapers, a 16-year old boy with an average build groggily rolled out of bed and brushed his teeth. After he dressed himself and ate breakfast he slung a satchel over his shoulder and began walking down the street. Two minutes later he lazily slouched down onto the bench of a bus stop, taking full advantage of the fact that he was the first one there and lying down across the bench. As he prepared to put in ear buds a loud yell of "Oi!" sounded out as a teenage boy with slicked back hair and a leather jacket frenziedly waved his arm at him. As the boy on the bench prepared to put his ear buds in again a yell of "OI! OI! Marcus, pay attention to me! It's your buddy, Jake!" could be heard by everyone awake at the moment. Marcus stared at Jake for a moment before putting away his ear buds and quipping "Hey Jake, I didn't expect to see you here. I thought you were too busy getting girls over the break to hang out with me, I didn't think you'd have time to come back to school." Jake shoved aside Marcus's legs and sat down next to him on the bench, slamming down a worn black bag before pulling Marcus up and putting his arm around his shoulder. Jake made various exaggerated movements with his arms while saying "Look, man, there's some things you can't control in life. It was my destiny to get girls over break. I just couldn't keep them away. You have to understand, I wanted to hang out with you, but I couldn't beat them off with a stick. It was my honor-bound duty to take care of business before we could hang out, and it turns out that business just never ended," with a tone like he was speaking about some sort of holy crusade to save humanity. Marcus glared at Jake before sighing and asking "Did you at least get some?" before Jake rapidly shook his head while looking downwards in shame. Marcus laughed and the two of them started bantering.
After around half an hour a small crowd arrived at the bus stop, forcing Marcus and Jake to relinquish their totalitarian control over the bench. As their conversation continued a bus with the words 'Arton City Cultivation School 23' painted on the side in all capital letters rolled up to the group of people and stopped. The teenagers stopped talking and boarded the bus, with 90 girls claiming most of the bus while three boys took up a small section near the back, sitting across from six who were already there. Marcus slid into the seat next to Jake and looked at the men sitting across from him, glancing at the skirts which they all wore. Marcus personally didn't have anything against people who crossdressed in order to help with their cultivation, but after years of arguing back and forth with the crossdressers at his school they were more or less mortal enemies to him. Marcus frowned before remarking "You know, I really don't know how you guys deal with the whole trap thing. I don't care whether it helps you sense cuteness better or not, it's too degrading to do. Have a sense of masculinity." The crossdressers giggled to themselves before one of them scoffed and said "I don't care whether you think it's degrading or not, you're just jealous that you can't cultivate as quickly as us. You're only at the 7th Stage of Moe Sensing, right? You're going to have to drop out of the cultivation course before college at this rate if you don't just suck it up and start wearing a skirt honey." in the most holier-than-thou and girly voice a man could possibly make. The traps started giggling again before Jake looked at Marcus and whispered "Look man, you're just having a slow start, it's fine. Roland and me don't wear skirts and shit and we're both chugging along through the Body Refinement phase fine. You'll catch up soon. And look on the bright side. You may be 2300rd in our grade, but that means there are still 200 people behind you!" Marcus slowly turned to face Jake before muttering "2400th. 2412th to be exact." and falling silent. Jake nervously smiled before turning to his right to face an extremely tall boy wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Jake muttered "Roland. Say something." and poked the boy a couple of times before noticing the sound of snoring coming from the human mountain next to him. Jake sighed and started staring out the window of the bus while Marcus blankly gazed at the student rankings on his phone.
The student ranks for each grade consist of all 2500 students in a given grade sorted mainly by the level of their cultivation, but with their results in various subjects and events factored in as well. Events related to one's ability to apply their cultivation such as tournaments in various forms of combat or 'trials by fire' were weighted more heavily than normal subjects and events. Despite the various factors that went into the rankings, almost every student was sorted by the stage of their cultivation. At most a few students from each grade were two stages above or below where they would usually be, and none of them jumped between different phases. In the Sophomore year at Arton City Cultivation School 23, everyone ranked below 2050th was in the Moe Sensing Phase. Above that, everyone except the top student were in various stages of the Body Refinement Phase. Jake happened to be ranked 1386th, and was in the 4th Stage of the Body Refinement Phase. Roland was ranked 680th and had just entered the 7th Stage of the Body Refinement Phase. Meanwhile, Marcus had remained in the bottom fifth of his grade since he had began cultivation schooling, and as of now he had fallen to a new low in the rankings. Marcus tabbed out of the school ranks while sulking in his seat. He used to be angry looking at his rank, but now he accepted it for the most part. Marcus would follow his own path in the Dao of the Moe, one where he could still be what he considered a 'true man'. If it failed, that was that. He spent the rest of the trip drowning out the outside world with music before the bus slowed to a stop in a large parking lot filled with a horde of students exiting buses. A bit over 90% of the crowd was made up of females, while the rest were mostly traps. Well-dressed people wearing skirts and accessories filled up Marcus's view as he exited the bus. In the earlier stages of cultivation it was considered of major importance to keep oneself groomed and to be as 'cute' and 'moe' as possible, both in the way one dressed and in the way one acted. By doing so it was said that one would be more in line with the Dao of Moe and have more success in their cultivation. This was why such a large proportion of boys at the school crossdressed.
Marcus followed behind Jake as he pushed his way through the crowd. Jake parted the crowd like Moses parted the Red Sea as every single girl who had rejected him glared at him before they whispered to their friends, causing groups of women to constantly move away as Jake neared. He really was convenient at times like these. Jake sighed before snidely remarking "Damn, it looks like it hurts the ladies to look too long at a shining star like me. Sometimes it's a curse to be so handsome." Marcus and Roland looked at him questioningly while holding back laughter. Roland shook off the last of his tiredness by yawning before flatly stating "Yes, all of the students here know of the bright star of our grade, 'Jake the Renowned', the only man to be turned down by more than half the grade." Jake stopped for a moment before a quizzical look appeared on his face. Marcus and Roland stumbled to a stop behind him before he snapped his fingers and turned around, enthusiastically shouting "Jake the Renowned! That's a damn good name if I've ever heard one!" and continuing on his merry way. Marcus thought about how impressive Jake's ability to stay unfazed was before continuing on behind him to class.
The group eventually made their way to the second floor of the High School on campus and walked into Class 2-37. A few people were milling around and talking, but for the most part the classroom was empty. A bearded man in his early 30s sat behind a desk grading papers before he looked up and waved to the three as they entered the room. They waved back before setting their things down next to a clump of desks which they had claimed as their own. Roland and Jake started chatting while Marcus walked off to talk to the teacher. As he approached the bearded man looked up and said "Hey, Marcus! It's nice to see you after the break, have you made any progress in your cultivation?" Marcus shook his head and the teacher, seemingly unsurprised but not disappointed continued talking, throwing in a "That's a shame, but keep doing your best. No matter what the other students say, remember that it's your choice whether to crossdress or not. I personally can't stand to do it and there are a few other students who do fine without it, like your friend Roland." before glancing back at his papers. Marcus brightened up, encouraged, before continuing the conversation with a "So, Mr. Darthorn, how'd the cultivation go over break for you?" Mr. Darthorn continued grading papers as he said "It's fine. I'll still likely need to consolidate my power at Stage 9 of Moe Channeling before I can start thinking about how to make a breakthrough to the next phase." Mr. Darththorn stopped grading papers for a moment before he sighed and continued on, slightly exasperated. "I still can't believe that someone in your grade has broken through to Moe Channeling, I couldn't do that until I was 23. From what I've heard it happens most years and on occasion there are even three or four talents like these in a single year, but in my first year as a High School teacher it's all still surprising." Mr. Darthorn looked up at the mostly full class before saying "On that note, I have an announcement to make when class starts. You should get to your seat, the bell is about to ring."
Marcus went back to his seat and talked with Jake for a minute before the bell rang and everyone quieted down. Mr. Darthorn cleared his throat, his gruff voice reverberating throughout the room as he walked up to the rostrum. The room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop when he began speaking.
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