Act III

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Act III poster.jpg

Act III of Kentucky Route Zero was released on May 6, 2014. It introduces Junebug and Johnny to the main cast of characters.

Synopsis[edit]

LYSETTE: It wasn't anyone's fault, Conway. That's what we mean when we say it's ...
CONWAY: An accident.
/ A tragedy. / A shame.

The previous morning, Conway sits at breakfast with Lysette. The two reminiscence about Ira, Lysette's deceased husband and Conway's former boss, and her son Charlie who died in a tragic roofing accident. Lysette tells Conway of a mail-order delivery, the "last act" of Lysette's Antiques before she leaves that day to move in with her sister Cora due to her old age and poor health. As the Neurypnol TM wears off, the dream slowly vanishes and Conway awakens in Dr. Truman's house.

Conway stares at his leg, which has been replaced with a ghostly, skeletal limb with a yellow glow. Conway remarks his leg feels foreign and mentions his dream; Dr. Truman tells him that while he may feel a sensation of "lost time" or "lateness," the strength of the drug would make dreaming highly unlikely. He suggests Conway look over the bill, and notes that payment will be handled through the Consolidated Power Company as they have bought out Dr. Truman's employer.
JOHNNY: Do you like music?
EZRA: I don't like music, but I do like sounds.

Conway, Shannon, and Ezra return to the Museum of Dwellings and find it closed for the night. Outside, Julian sits perched atop a streetlight, and Shannon tells Conway of her previous drug problems with Weaver's ADD medication. Emily, Ben, and Bob stand at the entrance, and debate whether to enter after finding the door unlocked; they are unable to hear Conway. Meanwhile, Ezra runs around the rain-filled parking lot. He encounters Flora, who is watching her paper boat slowly float away across a large puddle. She says she wishes it was still raining, and suggests they watch her boat until it disappears over the horizon, and hopes Ezra will say something romantic to her. When Ezra returns, the three debate where to head next: to Shannon's workshop to call a long-distance phone number written in the documents they found, to an all-night convenience store to get something to eat, or to Equus Oils to ask Joseph directions to the Zero, When Ezra returns, the group decides to set out to search for Lula. Soon after beginning the drive to their next destination, Conway's truck breaks down near a large tree. Shannon attempts to call a towing company to questionable success. While waiting, Ezra talks to Conway's dog and plays word games with Conway, while Shannon tries to repair the truck's radio.

JOHNNY: Test. Test. One. One. One. Three. Fifty. Lamentation. La — men — ta — tion.
Junebug and Johnny speed by the tree on their motorcycle. After some discussion, they decide to stop and help in hopes of gaining an audience at their performance to which they are running late. The two fix the truck's engine, and Conway, Shannon, and Ezra agree to accompany the musicians to a tavern, The Lower Depths tavern to watch their performance. At the bar, Junebug and Johnny sing the song "Too Late to Love You," as the roof of the bar seemingly disappears to reveal the full moon overhead. After their performance, the bartender, Harry Esperanza, admits he cannot pay them, left with nothing but an I.O.U. from the Hard Times Distillery who traded his customers' debt for whiskey and the events in The Entertainment. Harry suggests they head to the distillery to claim their payment, but notes that they must take the Zero to get there. After hearing Conway is searching for Dogwood Drive as well, Harry confirms that heading to the Zero is their best course of action. Junebug and Johnny decide to accompany the trio, and Harry gives them directions: tune the radio until they hear something "familiar but strange," and immediately turn around when it cuts out. Together, the group sets out in search of the Zero. Tuning their radio to a station that sounds like horses running, they drive until they see a team of horses standing in the middle of the darkened highway, and immediately appear on the Zero.
Another love came by, and stole my heart away. I wish that I could take it back, but it's too late.

Driving on the Zero, the group comes across a large chamber dominated by a rock spire, known as the Hall of the Mountain King. Johnny waits outside with Conway's dog while the others ascent the summit. Climbing up the path, Conway, Shannon, Ezra, and Junebug find various types of vintage computers in large piles, many in states of disrepair, surrounding a tall, burning fire of discarded electronics. They come across a old man named Donald who appears fixated on a grand project – his life's work – named XANADU, involving an old computer growing black mold inside, along with a piece of software and artificial intelligence designed as a simulation of his life's missed opportunities from long ago. He invites the group to take a look. Walking around the cavern, the group meets Amy, Roberta, Andrew, Donald's former research assistants who helped work on the project, now in ruins. The group turns on XANADU, but the text is garbled, unable to be read, and the audio distorted. Shannon attempts to use a portable degausser on the system, and they are able to make out the name "Lula" before the program crashes.

DONALD: The chalky bones of a beautiful dream. But you can see what it once was, can't you? Can't you?

The group questions Donald, who claims a group of people who he calls "the Strangers" had sabotaged it, and describes their appearance as dangerous and horrible. Asking him about Lula, Donald reveals the origins of XANADU, telling the story of how it was built by Lula, Joseph, and him. He states that while he does not know where Lula is now, as she and Joseph "left" a long time ago, the simulation of "Lula" inside XANADU may be able to figure out where she went. The group decides to locate the strangers so they may fix XANADU and find Lula. Donald tells them the strangers come through a tunnel of crystal and mud caves, and the group departs to seek their help.

The group comes upon a church in a muddy graveyard. Conway and Shannon go inside, while Junebug waits outside with Ezra, reading headstones and getting to know one another. Junebug reveals that she and Johnny are androids, robots manufactured to clear out the flooded Elkhorn Mine, but after listening to an old type player in the mine, they knew they were destined to be more than faceless, robotic miners, and escaped.
JUNEBUG: We slipped out onto the road, just these two featureless shadows, and ever since that night we've been detailing. Coloring in. Specifying. I feel more like myself every day.

Conway and Shannon emerge from the church, shaken, but Shannon says they have what they need. Returning to the Hall of the Mountain King, they tell Donald that XANADU can be fixed by scraping the mold off of the "timing crystals," along with letting it sit unpowered and typing in a specific phrase. The group boots up XANADU again, this time in a readable state. They find it contains a text adventure-like simulation game with crude graphics, including the history of its creation. It tells a story of Lula, Joseph, and Donald dragging computer equipment into caves to work on the project; however, after encountering what appear to be mute, animate skeletons in a crystal cave, Lula and Joseph abandon the project, with one of them getting lost in exiting the caves. (The same conversation can be heard in Limits & Demonstrations in the art exhibit and installation titled Overdubbed Nam June Paik installation, in the style of Edward Packer by Lula Chamberlain.)

LULA: We're on a dirt trail, in the park. Or, well, it's not really a trail ...
DONALD: (Distant) It's a trail!
LULA: It's more like a tendency.

XANADU reveals that Donald stayed in the caves, eventually stumbling into the Hall of the Mountain King, deciding this is where he will set up his equipment and establish his legacy. XANADU turns into a day-by-day simulation describing its own creation, including hiring a research assistant named Weaver from the University, along with a number of others – Mary Ann, Rick, Greg, Andrew, Amy, and Roberta.

Conway and the group continue playing the simulation, choosing to sleep, hire research assistants, or assign assistants to tasks such as debugging, transcription, or speculation. Seemingly unable to exit, they decide to try typing "Wait indefinitely." XANADU outputs that one research assistant, Weaver, follows the strangers into the tunnels, and neither return. Years pass and mold grows, until one night, different strangers arrive, and an old friend, Lula, returns. The program exits. Lula is standing in the cave.

Lula gives Donald the information needed to find Dogwood Drive and asks him to perform the calculations needed to resolve the previously-mentioned street name collisions. Donald states he should have the results in an hour, and will forward the information to the Bureau. Lula and the group return to the Bureau to wait. As they descend from the Hall of the Mountain King, Emily, Ben, and Bob can be seen playing "What Would You Give" in the foreground. Back at the Bureau, Lula states that after sorting through the results and cross-checking references with their records, they were able to find a corresponding mail stop along the Echo River route, and notes the night ferry is scheduled to stop by shortly, taking them where they want to go. Lula wishes them safe travels, and muses she's feeling impulsive, and may return to Mexico.

DOOLITTLE: The Echo River is fed from Lake Lethe, but you wouldn't recognize a drop of it. Lethe is cold, dark, and so very deep. And still!

While waiting for the ferry, Conway reveals what happened while he was talking with the strangers: he and Shannon had gone via a hidden elevator to an underground whiskey distillery staffed by indistinct glowing skeletons, identical in appearance to Conway's new leg. At the distillery, Conway and Shannon meet Doolittle who mistakes Conway for a new hire as a shipping truck driver. Doolittle gives them a tour, "speaking" only via a tape recorder around his neck. He hells them about The Formula, a revolutionary equation introduced to them by a brilliant mathematician that allows them to simply plug daily numbers in and run it through an adding machine instead of compounding interest by hand. Doolittle introduces Conway and Shannon to many of the distillery workers, all of whom who fell into debt and were forced to work to pay it off. He tells Conway he hopes he is a better driver than Miguel, who got into an accident earlier that evening involving bourbon and glass strewn across the interstate. Inspecting the truck he is expected to drive, Conway recalls stories of his past with Lysette and his former boss Ira in small vignettes. In one story, he recounts the accident that killed Lysette's son Charlie: too hungover to perform a roofing job, Charlie took Conway's place and, in performing the work in the hot sun, slipped and fell to his death.

He removed his hands from the steering wheel for a moment and felt the car drift into a decision. Years later, he'd think of this as the moment he himself started drifting.

On the way back up to logistics, Doolittle tells Shannon and Conway that the black mold from the Hall of the Mountain King is drawn to ethanol fumes which seep through the air into the cavern; not wanting even a drop of whiskey to go to waste, the workers come to scrape it off the machinery. Arriving upstairs, he shows them the adding machine which calculates each day's interest and tells Conway he is hired, offering him a "shift drink" to mark the occasion. Shannon protests, but Conway, in a daze, cannot resist, and takes a sip of the alcohol (with the game's cursor slowly, automatically moving toward the "Drink" option, outside the player's control). Shannon firmly states that they have a delivery to make and that Conway will not be working for them, but Doolittle notes that the alcohol he just drank was very expensive, not to mention the time he spent giving them the tour. Doolittle says that Conway will start the next day, as the scene blurs and fades to black.

EZRA: I'm confused.
CONWAY: It's just the way these things go, kid.

Back in the Bureau, the group stands silhouetted in front of Conway's truck, mulling over what's to come next. A tugboat arrives. As it pulls into view, a horn blares, revealing a gigantic, trumpeting wooly mammoth.


END OF ACT III.png

Locations[edit]

In the overworld[edit]

On the Zero[edit]

Optional locations[edit]

In the overworld[edit]

On the Zero[edit]