Act IV

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Act IV poster-560.jpg

Act IV of Kentucky Route Zero was released on July 19, 2016. It introduces Cate and Will to the main cast of characters.

Synopsis[edit]

This act has a diverging and reconverging storyline, and it is impossible to see all locations in one playthrough, e.g. Shannon either goes to the Rum Colony (off-boat choice) or watches the VHS tapes (on-boat choice), but not both. Read through the synopsis below linearly, or select your choices from the links at the bottom of sections to navigate through the story mirroring choices present in-game.

WILL: Maybe I oughta read it back-to-front ...

The Mucky Mammoth[edit]

The silhouette of the trumpeting mammoth fades into view, its mechanical body jerking and coming to a halt. Standing on the edge of the tugboat, a man named Will struggles with the operation manual. Junebug approaches and the two talk about the Echo River, where he's been traveling for over half his life. Will notes that they picked her and the group up at the Bureau, and says he hopes that this doesn't mean she had been traveling the Zero.

Shannon stands at the helm of the Mucky Mammoth, looking out at the water. She circles around the side of boat to talk to Will, and asks him for his story – a classically trained organist with a minor in French literature, he used to teach theater at the local university until a budget cut hit and he was demoted, left to do odd jobs around the campus. Eventually, he found his way to the Echo, where he met Cate, the captain, and has been traveling up and down the river ever since, and helps with maintenance, mail, trash, and recording their journey. Shannon goes to talk to Cate, who assures her that they're indeed on their way to
CONWAY: I've got to repay my debt. Hell, I should be grateful for the opportunity — if you want to die with any dignity, you've got to settle up. That's why it's such a damned shame when people go sudden.
Dogwood Drive, the site of Conway's delivery, but notes that the river is dicey tonight; in addition, they must make other stops as well – dropping off mail, picking up garbage, and delivering on a few favors – before reaching the Silo mail stop. She introduces Shannon to her dog Valkyrie, whom she calls Val, and tells her to take advantage of the amenities: fresh air, cozy beds, and hot tea – and also mentions that the video room on the boat contains some interesting-but-weird VCR tapes, including one of a woman talking with no sound except for a strange hum. As Cate heads back inside, Ezra runs up to Shannon and asks for batteries for a tape recorder Johnny lent him.

Ezra heads inside the cabin where he encounters Junebug and Johnny sitting with another musician named Clara. They tell him that him she's come from Lithuania to play a concert on the Echo River, after which she'll continue on to play in Nashville and Atlanta, and then the coast. Junebug also mentions another musician, Cyrano, and notes that he's playing tonight at The Rum Colony where she was supposed to meet with a woman to pick up some old engine parts three hours ago. Johnny sends Ezra out with his tape recorder to collect "found sounds" for Clara to use in her performance. As he exits, Conway walks into the room and grabs a beer from the fridge with his now-skeletal right arm after being sober for 15 months. He heads outside and has a conversation with Shannon about his drinking. He reminisces about Lysette's kindness, and says that he has to repay his debt to the distillery.

WILL: I'm sure I talk too much — everyone on this river does. The problem is that we listen twice as much as that. We're only telling you half of the stories we hear!

Sailing down the Echo[edit]

Will soliloquizes about stories of the Echo and events he's experienced firsthand, from the barn owl migration to the flooding of the train station to seeing the ghost of Stephen Bishop making moonshine on a raft.

Will narrates the scene:

One night, when I was working on The Mucky Mammoth, we picked up a gaggle of passengers headed down to a mail drop by the Silo of Late Reflections. I knew a couple of them in passing: a pair of traveling musicians, whom I often encountered on the river. The others were strangers to me at the time: a young woman, a small boy, and an old man whose name I didn't catch. Oh, and a smelly old dog. We docked at a gas station, so the Mammoth could refuel.

Ezra chooses to either get off at the gas stationAnchorIcon.svg or stay on the boat and look in the map roomAnchorIcon.svg.

A gas station[edit]

Cate, Junebug, Johnny, and Ezra debark at the floating gas station, which changes its position along the Echo nightly. Cate talks with Junebug about the roaming storm upstairs and possible flooding and damages, but says she looks forward to the mushrooms that it'll bring, and she can search for them with Val. The gas station attendant tells Junebug he has crystals for sales, and recounts how he used to reside in Cleveland, Ohio, living off inheritance in hotels,
AL: GLORYITISGOODTOBEAMONGFRIENDS!
until he ran out of money and took up his current job. Norm enters and talks with Junebug, mistaking her for a woman named Loretta who he was planning to meet for a date. He mentions he may head down to the Rum Colony later, and asks for her advice on his online dating profile. Junebug browses the available food, drink, and crystals; in deciding to pour some coffee for herself into a styrofoam cup, she accidentally drops the pot. Meanwhile, Johnny talks to a man named Al, who tells the story of how, looking for an ice floe, he became lost on the Echo without a lantern and almost starved to death. Preparing to eat his last apple, he noticed it was rotten, infested with a maggot which hatched just as he was about to take a bite. Thinking about the futility of the insect's life, he paused and, in that moment, its lower abdomen lit up. Using the lightning bug's glow, he found his way out of the complex river cave.

Sailing down the Echo[edit]

Will narrates the scene:

See that small, brick building? It used to be an upholstery shop. Now it's inhabited by a very skilled taxidermist, whose art is greatly in demand. The old shop's name has been lost to time and weather […] and the only trace of it now is the grayed frame of an old sign behind the new lettering.

Shannon chooses to either go to the Rum Colony barAnchorIcon.svg or stay aboard the boat and repair the VCRAnchorIcon.svg.

CATE: The nice thing about the story cliff is you can start reading anywhere you want. There's no beginning or end, just a bunch of middle.
WILL: It's not usually on the lake, though ... that was strange.

The Mucky Mammoth[edit]

On board, Ezra makes observations from the captain's chair and Cate talks to him about the floating gas station, what the dials and gauges on the dashboard mean, and her home-brewed "Kykeon Kombucha." She tells him that she relies heavily on landmarks and lights, as compasses don't work well on the Echo. She tells him about the landmarks they've passed so far – Duck Island, the Lighthouse, and the Story Cliff. Noticing they should have passed Dinosaur Rock by now, but haven't, she sends Ezra to the map room to help Will update the charts.

On his way there, Ezra records more sounds. He encounters Conway, who tells him that he doesn't use maps, and instead remembers roads using landmarks or asks for directions. After walking past Shannon, who is trying out Clara's theremin, Ezra finds Will who asks him for information to update the charts, since locations on the river often end up shifting in position. As a thank you, he offers a selection of old maps charting underwater islands.

Sailing down the Echo[edit]

Will narrates the scene:

That gas station isn't anchored to anything; it follows the current. We might run into it anywhere along the river. Cate just starts looking for it when she's low on fuel, and the Echo provides. […] They came back aboard, Mammoth refueled, and we ambled on toward The Rum Colony.

Shannon chooses to either go to the Rum Colony barAnchorIcon.svg or stay aboard the boat and repair the VCRAnchorIcon.svg.

The Rum Colony[edit]

When she was a child, she collected feathers — not the way a hobbyist collects trinkets, but the way a clump of dust collects more dust by static electricity.
Shannon, Junebug, Johnny, Will, and Conway get off at the Rum Colony, a drowsy beachside bar illuminated by torchlight. The reverberations of Cyrano's lap steel guitar drift through the nighttime air. Shannon wanders the beach with her flashlight. She talks with Will, who is relaxing on a couch, and with Conway, who is drinking flower-flavored alcohol at a table by himself. Conway tells her how he feels buried by memories of his past, and says he doesn't belong in the "here and now." Shannon continues to explore and finds various shining relics on the beach, including a damaged VHS tape, a faded photograph, a matchbook, a feather, a styrofoam cup with coffee in it, a bottle with a sleeping crab inside, and a box of sand.

On the other side of the beach, she encounters Bureau clerks Luis, Böhm, and Metzstein, while Rick is passed out in the sand. They tell her they're celebrating a milestone, although none of them know the details. The celebration was intended to be held at the Bureau, but the shipment from Hard Times never arrived, as the driver was in an accident en route.

Will never has any money. Good for him.
At the bar counter and surrounding tables, Shannon meets Sonny, who woefully mourns the world's environmental problems such as melting polar ice caps and toxic runoff, and his wife Dawn, who apologizes for his pessimistic attitude. Nearby, the bartender, Patch talks to Junebug and Johnny. He tells Junebug that she just missed a lady with an engine for sale who she was planning to meet, and offers them drinks from dozens of options, but they decline. At the stage, Johnny talks with Cyrano, who expresses that he's hoping for tips on his performance but can't appear to the audience as if he cares if he receives them. As Cyrano plays a song, Johnny sets out to collect tips from the bargoers, but is only able to find a $20 bill lying in the sand.

After Cyrano's song, Johnny and Junebug agree that they're ready to set off, and Shannon goes to get Conway. As she approaches, three glowing skeletal figures sit around his table, visible only in her flashlight beam. She asks who he's talking to and, startled by her presence, he says it's nothing to worry about and the two return to the boat.

The Mammoth sails on…AnchorIcon.svg

The Mucky Mammoth[edit]

While some of the crew goes to drink, Shannon stays aboard and watches old tapes on the TV in the video room. The videos focus on a variety of subjects, from documentaries about birds to weather programs to a taping of a funeral. One video features a young Will taking calls about supernatural stories, just to listen, with a banner hung in the background reading "I BELIEVE YOU." Shannon inserts a tape labeled "???" and begins to hear a humming sound. Weaver stands in a dingy room with blank, gray walls and video equipment in the corner, looking directly at
That awful hum ... it seems to start before Shannon even hits "play."
the camera. She begins to speak. Only the hum continues, but Shannon recalls her words as they appear in captions on the screen:
WEAVER: ... mail, school, and these magnificent, tragic horses. Go underground, as deep as you can go. The air is cool and the earth is damp, and when you close your eyes you are surrounded by the dead. Remember where that is? You'll find your way from there. I think this place is what you're looking for. Some of it will wash away soon, but I think you'll be happy here, even without the mail, school ...

The text repeats on loop and Shannon stops the tape.

Shannon walks upstairs to the main deck and finds Will and Shannon trying to remember the sound of the "mammoth's song," a tune that used to play from a music box hidden in the animatronic mammoth. She asks about the tapes, to which Cate explains the VCR automatically records over anything left in it, but the only signal they get the public-access community television station WEVP. Believing they'd have a lot in common, Cate suggests to Shannon that she meet Dashiell, who used to do volunteer work for the station before being let go. She mentions that she recently dropped him off at the telephone exchange, and that they should be stopping there again soon to deliver mail and pick up trash.

Sailing down the Echo[edit]

As the boat weighs anchor, Will narrates stories of places they pass on the river, such as a lot of small houses beneath a sunflower orchard; originally built by two sisters, the residences are now only populated only by moths. He recounts hearing about what happened at the bar, including Conway's drinking, stories of the dark corners of the beach from Ezra, or Junebug feeling at ease about missing her appointment.

Will narrates the scene:

I should tell you about Patch. He's the bartender, general manager, "creative director" […] A lot of folks assume he owns it, but that is not the case. The Rum Colony is owned by a dead man named Vernon. Technically, it would be owned by the power company […] but a clause in that arrangement requires them to keep their hands off the day-to-day — and most the profits — so long as Vernon walks this earth. The upshot of all this is that nobody came forth to identify the body ...

Cate, Will, and Clara stop at a telephone boothAnchorIcon.svg or the dogs lounge below deckAnchorIcon.svg.

A phone[edit]

The group waits in line at a floating phone booth, bobbing and swaying in the water. Ezra says he plans to make a call, either to Julian or to no one in particular. Conway drops into the water and swims back to the boat to look for more alcohol.

Will walks up to the phone to listen to his messages. The screen splits to show a bear scavenging at the Bureau, and human voices read out audio recordings. The messages feature players' personal anecdotes, stories, and feelings:

"I can't sleep anywhere near
a place where gas is sold."
"It was tough to hold onto the snake,
but, yeah, my hands are pretty damp."
"I remember, uh ... I remember
driving across an old dirt road."
"We were driving up in a white Nissan station
wagon with faux wood paneling. It was the
first time that I'd seen the house that I was
going to live in for the next seven years."
"I was in a stroller in Tree Tops Park, in
Florida. My mother accidentally pushed me
into a spiderweb, and I freaked out a lot. I think
that's the first thing I remember."
"Well, I was hoping that you'd be able to
tell me why I can't sleep. It seems like
it's been a long time, and it seems like ...
it just ... it's time to sleep now."
"Getting caught by my neck
in the jungle gym."
"I'm about to cross an ocean,
and I worry about my dog."
"Huh. Seriously?"
Cate walks up to the phone and calls a woman named Summer, one of her clients. She and says she's doing well except she can't get comfortable enough to sleep, so she's up watching TV, to which Cate suggests a natural remedy. Cate tells the others that she is a birth doula, and that many of her clients seem to appreciate someone with experience who doesn't treat pregnancy like an "illness to be cured" as is often true with nurses.
SHANNON: (To WILL.) So, any important messages?
WILL: Every single one.

Clara calls her older sister Nadia in Lithuania who is on the balcony of her apartment complex. Nadia tells her that their Uncle Andrius has recently been moved to hospice care and is not accepting visitors. She suggests he would see Clara if she came home to visit, but Clara says it would be impossible to make it back in time anyway.

The man waiting for the phone previously talks to the group and reveals himself as Brandon, the janitor from the self storage facility. He asks if they will be passing by the Bureau, as he lost track of time playing a card game and missed the usual ride home from his mother. Cate says they're not but will be heading back past the phone booth and that direction in a few hours. Brandon asks about Conway, who he met before; Cate says that while she doesn't know him too closely, he seems drunk and preoccupied, to which Brandon says that he seemed "spiritually distracted" to him as well.

The phone rings and Shannon answers. Carrington, if encountered in Act I, is seen at a payphone, carrying his signature pair of antlers, as a neon sign reading "Hard Times" illuminates the brick wall behind him. He says that he was trying to call a friend who is a lighting designer in Chicago, but believes the storm is affecting the phone lines. He asks Shannon for her help with his upcoming play, which will be held at dawn in the location provided in Act II. Besides the fact the cast and stage crew are all delayed by the bad weather, he needs help on deciding how to show the image of the moon in the performance, as light is a central theme in Frost's original poem on which the play is based. Shannon suggests a solution – either a photo of the moon, an actor in costume, or telling the audience to close their eyes and imagine it – and he thanks her and says he hopes they will be able to make it to the premiere.

Sailing down the Echo[edit]

Will narrates the scene:

That right there is Ratliff Monuments, if you ever need a headstone carved ... for a loved one, I mean. The "showcase," a mock cemetery out front, was mostly washed away. […] If a few stray stones ended up at the bottom of Lake Lethe, too, we'll never know.

The group either stops at the Radvansky Center to earn some cashAnchorIcon.svg or plays a card game aboard the boatAnchorIcon.svg.

The Radvansky Center[edit]

Security camera footage begins playing. Two employees, Mimi and Jenn, watch and discuss the undated video tapes of the group's visit to the center, mentioning were discovered by their coworker Darryl along with old questionnaires that were never processed. The two read the group's completed questionnaires and reference them against the security footage they're viewing. In the first tape, Shannon wanders around a room to inspect a poster and bookcase before sitting down to answer written questions on the purpose of her visit, her first memory, descriptions of the items in the room she just looked at, etc. Upon seeing the name "Márquez" on Shannon's file, Mimi is taken aback, and recollects her time with WEVP-TV, a community television station and cooperative forcibly-funded by the Consolidated Power Company which used to screen video art she created before it was demolished in a flood. She says that she hasn't heard of Shannon Márquez, but did know Weaver Márquez who worked at the station before leaving on "weird terms." As they switch to an extended monitoring tape showing the group's arrival at the dock, Jenn remarks that Conway looks like "one of those creepy distillery guys."

MIMI: I just get this awful feeling whenever I see them. Like I knew them once, but not anymore ... like when they make up a dead person to look like an old photograph of themselves.
JENN: Sort of familiar, sort of strange.

The next video shows a cat, Coconut, who Jenn mentions disappeared from the center one day without a trace. Shannon walks over, underneath an archway, to feed Coconut. The video cuts to yet another room where Shannon listens to a tape of doors opening and closing, with a questionnaire asking her to recall her thoughts before and after listening to the recording. Mimi and Jenn switch to viewing an extended monitoring tape showing Will sitting in a waiting room; Mimi comments that he looks familiar, likely having worked at the university when she was an undergrad. Mimi recounts her time in college and her distressing final year in which her boyfriend, Charlie, died suddenly by falling off a roof while back home visiting his family.

On the following video, Shannon stands in a room with multiple TVs where she watches a number of videos about doors and answers questions about them. Mimi and Jenn discuss what happened with Weaver – a few months after her departure, bizarre events started happening around the station that persisted for years, such as interference during regular broadcasts via a jamming signal that blacked out the feed. After a few moments, a video of Weaver staring at the camera would come on, accompanied by a sinister, awful hum and creepy captions in an unconventional font. The video was the last thing broadcast before the flood.

As instructed by another questionnaire, Shannon makes a phone call and talks with a man who reveals himself to be an orthopedic physical therapist; the two have a brief chat about getting to know someone based on the sound of their voice. Mimi suddenly recollects that she knew "Wise Will" from university, where he worked as a technician in the music department, frequently telling stories about the school's architecture and local history. As Shannon flips through a calendar, Mimi and Jenn change to a tape of the monitoring room in attempt to see who was working back at the time of the group's visit. The tape proves unhelpful in answering their question, but does answer another mystery – on the tape, Ezra walks into a room, greets Coconut, and promptly leaves; the cat follows him outside, taking her leave. The two switch to the final extended monitoring tape of the dock, where Conway is seen talking with three glowing skeletons. As Will, Shannon, and Ezra – now followed by Coconut – return to the dock, the skeletons disappear, and the group boards the dinghy to return to the boat.

EZRA: Nine gray feathers, seven blue petals, three white doves, eight deep breaths, five slow hours.

The Mucky Mammoth[edit]

Cate, Junebug, Clara, and Ezra sit playing a card game while listening to music on a cassette tape over the Mammoth's P.A. system. Conway's dog, Val, and a black cat lounge about and relax.

A grove[edit]

The Mucky Mammoth[edit]

Echo River Central Exchange[edit]

Sam & Ida's[edit]

A neighborhood[edit]

Silo of Late Reflections[edit]


END OF ACT IV.png

Locations[edit]

Optional locations[edit]