This is a story I began with my 13-year-old son over the Fourth of July week of 2008. My son lives in the Austin area and would like to attend the University of Texas Austin for college.
Please feel free to add to this story as you see fit. I am especially looking for UT Austin students and/or alumni to contribute. I will also try and get my son involved. The backstory page will be updated and on it is a complete character list.
Austin in August is a very warm place. Fox McCloud was not used to the heat. Fox is from Northern California where it is very cool in the summertime. He was in a brand new city and a brand new state – a state of Texas and a state of mind. He was finally getting away from his overprotective parents for the first time in his life. His dad was a scientist at UC Berkeley and Fox spent most of his life on college campuses, but science was not what he wanted to do –although he would have been great at it, as his grades in the toughest public high school in San Francisco were flawless.
The Southwest plane ride to Austin Bergstrom International Airport from Oakland was uneventful and so was the shuttle ride northward up I-35 to campus. In the shuttle with him was one other person, a returning grad student from Houston.
The shuttle parked alongside Jester Center, one of the largest college dorm buildings in the nation, on Speedway behind the Brazos Garage.
Fox walked from this point to Moore-Hill Hall with two suitcases filled with clothes and other accessories.
It was Orientation Week 2008 at the University of Texas.
As Fox walked towards the dorm building, a couple of fraternity dudes were walking past, westward from Darrell K Royal football stadium, with their burnt orange T-shirts that had their frat letters on the front.
“Hey, look at the freshman nerd!” said one of them. "I forgot it's Orientation this week, all the freshman geeks are gonna start pouring in!"
“Hey Nerd!” the other said, with a condescending snap in his voice, more suited to a police officer or a Marine drill sergeant. “Freshman are supposed to speak when spoken to!”
Fox got a little nervous.
“Umm…hey guys,” Fox said nervously. “Can you tell me where Moore-Hill is?”
“YOU'RE gonna live in Moore-Hill??? That DUMP??? HA ha haha ha!!!” The one frat was laughing very hard. “Moore-Hill is the honors dorm. That dorm is for loser nerds who don't party, don't drink, don't smoke and don't...well, you know what I'm talking about. Oh, wait a minute – if you’re living in Moore-Hill…I guess that makes you a...hmmm...let's see...possibly...a...LOSER nerd!!! Ha hahaha!!!!! Looooo-ser!!! Looooo-ser!!! Enjoy your loser life here in Texas, you nerd!!!!”
And then the two of them walked away, laughing and joking, completely ignoring him now, without even directing him towards the building. Fox was embarrassed and a little angry at those guys for not welcoming him to the University of Texas.
Just then, Fox saw a man in a cotton shirt and shorts walk by. He recognized him as Doctor Espinoza, whom he first met when some UT people came to his high school for student information day.
“Hey Doc!” yelled Fox.
“Ah! Fox McCloud from San Francisco!" waved the graying man, with a wide-bespectacled grin on his face. He walked right over, reached out and shook Fox's hand vigorously. Fox was relieved. "Welcome to Orientation!!! How are you, my boy? I noticed those two ruffians bothering you just now.”
“Oh that was nothing....Anyways, how are you?”
“Very well,” replied the Doctor. “Are you ready for Intro to Comparative History this semester? And, did you read that book I suggested to you?”
“Yes I did and I’m glad you recommended it, it was real interesting.”
“Well, I look forward to having you in my class. As for now I must be off! Welcome, young man, welcome. And remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you!” and with that said the Doctor walked off.
Fox walked through the door of his dorm building.
As Fox entered the lobby, he was greeted by a young woman in a burnt orange T-shirt that said “Welcome New Longhorns - Orientation Week 2008”. The name tag said “Kaylin”.
“Hello there” she said. “Checking in today?”
“Ummm…I guess so…this is Moore-Hill, right?”
“Sure is. And you are?”
“Fox McCloud. I’m a freshman history major in the honors college.”
Kaylin looked at the printout sheet she held and saw his name right on it.
“Oh, yeah, Lowell High School, San Francisco, right?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
Kaylin made a check mark by Fox’s name on the sheet. “OK...looks like you are on the second floor. Room 216. We matched you up with your roommate based on the form you filled out with your housing application on the website. Your roommate’s name is...let's see...right down here...Tyler Pendergriph. He got here with his parents from Dallas about an hour ago. Down the hall that way and up those stairs. Oh and we’re having our first meeting at 7:00, all students have to attend, so don’t be late, it’s down here in the main conference room.”
“OK, thanks a lot.”
He walked up the stairs and down a long, damp, cold hallway dragging his bags. "At least the AC is working," Fox said to himself.
He knocked on the door and a short guy with short blond hair wearing a orange UT shirt and baggy camo pants opened the door.
“Hey man! Wazzup?"
"Ummm...I'm Fox McCloud, this is my room."
"Oh, OK, dude, I'm Bass, man!" He grinned and stuck out his hand for a handshake, which Fox returned. "My real name's Tyler but everybody calls me Bass. You're the dude from Cali, right?"
"Yeah, San Francisco."
"Right on," replied Bass. "Just drop your shit over there on that bed, that's gonna be your side of the room."
"OK," said Fox, and he dropped his bags on the bare mattress.
Bass was already set up. His XBOX 360 was already hooked up and he was playing Call of Duty.
The Moore-Hill students assembled in the main lobby. Kaylin and another student were there in burnt orange "orientation" t-shirts to meet them.
"OK, listen up," Kaylin said. "This is Justin, he's one of your RA's...Some of you have already met him. We will all go as a group across the way here to the Alumni Center."
The alumni building was immediately to the north and east of the dorm building. The 50 or so students began walking, it would only take them about five minutes to get there. Some of the students from the nearby San Jacinto dorms would be joining them.
Fox and Bass walked together right behind Kaylin and Justin.
"So your dad's a scientist?" asked Bass.
"Yeah, he's a geologist at Berkeley."
"He digs up rocks and stuff?"
"Yeah, sort of. He's on some dig right now in Southern Utah. What does your dad do?"
"My dad owns two Saturn dealerships in Dallas."
"Wow, that's kind of cool, I like Saturns. Did you get a free car?" Fox asked.
"No, man, that sucks! One of my friends got a Beemer for his 16th birthday, but my parents said I had to work for a car like everyone else.", said Bass.
"Nothing wrong with working for what you want," Justin interjected, looking behind him at Bass.
"Work's all right with me as long as I get an equal opportunity to goof off!" Bass chuckled.
"That's one of the things we're gonna talk about tonight," Kaylin said. "Students have to have a balance between work and play to be successful."
"You think you'll like being a business major?' Fox asked Bass.
"It might be all right," said Bass, "but Dad wants me to do it and I don't know if I'm gonna like all those boring business and econ and statistics classes."
"Just tell your dad you want to do something else," Fox said.
"Yeah, but he said if I drop the business major he won't pay for me to be here, and I'll have to take out loans," Bass gruntled. "He wants me to join the dealerships after I get out of here."
"You don't want to sell Saturns?" asked Fox.
"No freakin' way, dude!" said Bass. "I want to run a nightclub on South Padre Island, with all the hot babes and the cocktails and the bands and stuff! Check this out, dude: South Padre's got as many live local music spots as Austin does! And man, you need to go down there and check out the hotties!!!"
"South Padre gets hurricanes!" Kaylin exclaimed.
The group was now entering the main ballroom of the Alumni Center, where rows of those ugly, cheesy hotel ballroom chairs were all set out for everyone to sit in. Along the large plate glass window wall were set out tables where attendants were serving fruit punch. Fox and Bass got in line for a styrofoam cup of punch. This, of course, was orange punch.
The students and RA's from San Jacinto dorm also began to stream into the ballroom through the large sliding glass doors. The room felt nice and cool after being in the hot humid late summer air.
On each seat was a folder with a bunch of papers inside. The folder said "Longhorn O-Week '09".
Fox and Bass sat at the far end of the next to last row of chairs. A couple of African-American guys came and sat down next to them, followed by a female Latina student, who waved to Kaylin. Kaylin came over to them.
"Mom called, she said she's putting $500 on your Bevo bucks," Kaylin said. The other girl nodded. She was holding hands with the taller of the two men.
Bass' eyes lit up when he saw the tall dude.
"Hey, do you know who that freakin' is????"
"I don't know," said Fox.
"Oh, my god, that is freakin Marcus Jameson, dude!"
"OK..." Fox said, puzzled.
"The freakin' number one high school quarterback in the nation and he's the freakin' starting quarterback this year! he ain't even supposed to be at this orientation, they have a separate orientation for athletes that regular people can't go to and it's closed to the media too."
Marcus and the girl, apparently a sister to Kaylin, sat down next to Fox.
"Are you Kaylin's sister of something?" asked Fox.
"Umm, yeah, I'm Kristin Rodriguez."
"Nice to meet you." said Fox.
"This is Marcus, he plays football." Kristin said with a grinning chuckle.
"'sup," Marcus said and shook hands with Fox.
"Hey man, can I get your autograph?" Bass blurted out with excited urgency. "I promise I won't sell it on ebay. Ten years from now when you win the Super Bowl for the Cowboys."
"All right," Marcus said and with a flourish and a snap, signed the inside of Bass' orientation packet. "And yes, I do intend to win the Super Bowl as a member of my Dallas Cowboys, but first I gotta get us a national championship." He then kissed Kristin on the lips.
An official looking man with glasses and a burnt orange tie popped right into the room and came over to Marcus. He looked a little nervous and frazzled.
"What are you doing here?" the man said?
"Coach Brown said we have to mingle with the student body," Marcus said with a jaunty smirk. "You was there."
"Well he sent me over to keep an eye on you two," the man said. "Too much mingling and we could be in third place in the conference standings!"
"Don't you worry 'bout me!" Marcus said with a confident grin. "Go on up there up front and say your little PR thang and get these people to get some tickets to come see me perform for y'all. I gotta get my mingle on!"
A young woman came up to the podium at the front of the room. The microphone squeaked with feedback as she adjusted it.
"Hello everyone," she said.
"Hello," a few people mumbled.
"Let me try this again, Hello, everyone!" she said a little louder.
"Hello," everyone said louder and in a little more unison.
"That's better,' she said.
"My name is Sheree Davis, I am with the Office of New Student Services and I would like to welcome all of you to the University of Texas! Tonight is the kickoff event of our week-long fall orientation, which will get you acquainted with your fellow students and your professors, I see we have one of our associate members of the athletic department here with us tonight, and just get you ready for your life as a member of the Longhorn academic community!"
"First we are going to watch a short film."
The house lights went dark and a screen slowly came down on the back wall. There was a Sanyo video projector hanging from the ceiling, and a DVD began to play.
The opening scene was sunrise over the iconic UT tower. Sweeping orchestral music played.
Fox fell asleep. When he woke up, he thought he was back in his room with Bass. It turned out that he was in some kind of remote desert area he was never in before. He has gone to lot of places using his History classes to discover almost the entire world.
In this place the skies were painted with purple and the grounds were stained with black, the trees had a greenish tint to them, giving them a radiant glow, and the whole place seemed alive.
“Whoa!” Fox exclaimed aloud.
Fox McCloud gazed at the realm he was in with amazement...He had absolutely no possible idea how he got here. At that moment, just when everything seemed so wonderful, Fox was suddenly drained of his excitment and filled with a cold fear. He heard a strange whining noise. The noise grew louder and louder until it started sounding more like a roar. Fox started to shiver.
“What is this!?” yelled Fox.
He started walking towards the noise. Up ahead he stared at a giant wall, which seemed to be built with gigantic, ancient gray stones.
“Reminds me of the Great Wall Of China,” he tried to joke.
The old stone wall towered over him. It seemed to be no less than 20 stories high. He wouldn’t be able to climb this thing. Suddenly the roar shot out again. Fox whipped his head back to see where it was coming from.
A small bunny/lion creature appeared from the shadows. The creature was about the size of his mom’s Chow/Jack Russell mix back in San Francisco. But the sound it made was no small sound, as it was the very roar that put that cold fear into Fox.
The creature roared again making Fox back away. As he did this he stumbled over a rock and fell on his back. The blow took the wind right from his chest. The creature eventually hopped away leaving Fox alone in the dark.
“How do I get out of here?” Fox was finding it hard to breathe in his fear and tension, but he knew he had to find a way to escape and he had to find it pretty quickly.
Fox started to walk along the old wall until he found a shining light by a strange lamp post. The light instantly disappeared when he neared it. Fox walked towards the lamp post and after about 25 feet, he saw a small tunnel in the wall. He looked through and saw the familiar profile, and the distinctive lights, of Darrell K Royal Texas Longhorn Stadium. The lights were on and he remembered that he was meeting everyone on second floor for the game against Baylor.
Fox walked quickly through the tunnel and came out...right on San Jacinto and East 23rd Street at the north end of the stadium, right by the Veterans Memorial plaza and the Statue of Democracy. He looked behind him but there was no stone wall, just the river, the alumni building, and eventually the Main Tower in the background.
Fox was puzzled and confused, but he proceeded to the gate where Bass and the other people from the floor were waiting. Kaylin was already on the field as part of the Bevo Squad, the students who led Bevo onto the field each home game.
“Hey Fox!” Bass yelled out. “Come on dude, the game’s about to start!”
The students took their seats in the student section.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise as we sing...The Eyes of Texas".
Everyone began to join the Longhorn Band in singing the school alma mater, "The Eyes of Texas".
Darrell K Royal Stadium was filled with over 80,000 people clad in burnt orange t-shirts and polo shirts.
The intro video began to play on the "Godzillatron", one of the world's largest video scoreboards. The video always ends with the 2005 national championship trophy, with rays of golden light streaming out from its crystal football, and then the team runs out onto the field from the south end.
As this was happening, the Texas song began to be played by the Longhorn band: “Fight, Texas Fight”. Then, the Longhorns entered the field to huge cheers and applause, and some fireworks. Kaylin and the Bevo Squad led the huge bull onto the field and everyone cheered. All the people in the stands held their fingers up in the “Hook ‘Em Horns” sign and yelled and cheered.
"Give 'em hell, give 'em hell, OU sucks"! they yelled at that point in the song, pumping their "Hook 'em Horns" fists high in the air as they yelled.
The game seemed to progress normally. Texas stomped Baylor with a 75-yard kickoff return and an interception for the first two touchdowns of the contest. By halftime the score was 23-3 in favor of the Horns and Marcus Jameson, the sophmore QB, was doing very well calling the plays of the field. Marcus looked over at Kaylin and she grinned with happiness at her friend.
The game ended with Longhorns (45) and Baylor (12). Fox and the rest of his friends went out to eat, but instead of just popping over to Jester City Limits, they drove all the way to the Chili's restaurant on US 79 in Hutto.
Ordinary world UT-Austin campus.
Fantasy world DarkRai (I have no idea what that is, my teenage son added this. Apparently it is a Pokémon.)
Fox McCloud College freshman. 18 years old. Originally from San Francisco, California. Went to Lowell High School, probably the best of the public high schools in the city, but even among his very intelligent friends, he is considered an extreme nerd. As a result, he is shy and is a little scared at being so far away from home. He owns a mysterious ring, which belonged at one time to his grandfather. One of his ancestors was an evil wizard.
Fox is beginning his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin. He is very excited about going to college and being away from home for the first time in his life. The new friends he encounters make fun of him, because he’s very smart but not very cool. He gets more popular as he is thrown into a challenge: Fox gets a message from a strange person named Ganondorf who was “friends” with Fox’s great-great-great-great grandfather back in Scotland. Fox doesn’t know it yet, but he could very well be the person who will save the entire state of Texas - and by extension the known universe - from six powerful and evil wizards. Special weapons will be needed to destroy these evil wizards of doom.
Lorenzo MacLean Sophomore. 19 years old, native of East Austin.
Doctor Espinoza Professor of History at UT Austin.
Ganondorf Evil wizard. Had dealings with Fox’s great-great-great-great grandfather back in Scotland in the 1780's.
Kaylin Rodriguez Junior. 20 years old. Native of San Antonio. The "damsel in distress".
Sergeant Richard "Rick" or "Sarge" Miley University of Texas campus police sergeant.
Brock Hampton (Code Name: Snake) Member of Kappa Dappa fraternity. A spy working for the evil wizards. Ancestor worked for Ganondorf.
Professor Alexis Harper English professor at UT Austin. Former wife of Doctor Espinoza. Allied with the evil wizards.
Snuffy & Scruffy Trolls. Henchmen working for Ganondorf.
Tyler "Bass" Pendergriph Freshman. 17 years old. Native of Plano, Texas (north suburban Dallas). Comes from an affluent family. Roommate of Fox McCloud. Crazy, likes to party and provides comic relief.
Marcus Jameson Freshman. 18 years old. Native of Oklahoma City. Number one rated high school QB in the nation and recruited by Texas, much to the chagrin of University of Oklahoma boosters and fans. Named the starting QB for the upcoming season.
Kristin Rodriquez Freshman. 18 years old. Younger sister of Kaylin. Girlfriend of Marcus. Lives in Jester West.