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Wade uses his administrator access to unlock his anklet and ear tag. He recovers a requisitioned, IOI maintenance tech uniform and recodes his anklet to act as a security bracelet so that he may pass through the building. He leaves the IOI building with little resistance and throws away the anklet. He travels to a nearby post office center where he had ordered a portable OASIS console before being indentured. He sends messages to Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto, telling them about the surveillance that they are under and how they need to leave and get somewhere safe.
Wade loads the citizen registry, notices that Bryce Lynch is already a wanted fugitive, and changes his retinal pattern and fingerprints back to Wade Watts. He purchases a flak vest and handgun from a vending machine. He then travels to an OASIS parlor nearby that is not owned by IOI. He rents the most expensive private room for twelve hours and requests the fastest upload speed possible. After uploading the entirety of his stolen IOI data to his OASIS account, he sends the footage of Daito’s murder, his conversation with Sorrento, and the plan to abduct Art3mis and Shoto to every news outlet. When he logs into Aech’s basement, Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto are waiting for him.
Wade greets his friends and tells them about being indentured by the Sixers and stealing their data. Art3mis is angry with him for looking at her photo, but eventually she thanks him for the warning. Wade shows them the Sixer footage of Sorrento’s attempts to open the Third Gate with his Crystal Key. Above the Third Gate, “Charity. Hope. Faith.” is printed. Wade explains to them that it is a reference to “Three is a Magic Number,” from Schoolhouse Rock. He tells them that he believes that three people with the Crystal Key must work together to open the gate. He then tells them that the final part of his plan will have the impenetrable force field around Castle Anorak fall in 36 hours. The others ask how he plans to defeat the entire Sixer army and gain entrance, even with the force field gone. Wade tells them that they will rally every gunter to fight the Sixers. They discuss the challenges of trying to remain hidden in the real world. Without warning, Ogden Morrow’s avatar, the Great and Powerful Og appears in the Basement chatroom. Ogden then asks if they have ever been to Oregon, stating, “It’s lovely this time of year.”
Ogden Morrow’s avatar explains to the group that he has superuser access and has been eavesdropping on them since their first meeting. He explains that James Halliday asked him to do everything he could to “protect the spirit and integrity of the contest.” He tells them that he cannot help them with the contest in the OASIS, but he wants to help them in the real world, by providing a safe place from the Sixers. Ogden charters private flights for them.
Aech warns Wade that he looks nothing like his avatar—which depicts a while male. When Aceh arrives to pick up Wade in his RV and drive to the airport, Wade is shocked to find that, in reality, Aech is a black female close to Wade’s own age. Aech explains that her mother used a white male avatar in business to avoid racism and she has done the same. Aech also tells Wade that when she told her mother that she was gay, she was kicked out of her house. Wade tells Aech that her gender, race, and sexual orientation do not affect their friendship. In Oregon, Ogden Morrow leads them into high end haptic rigs inside his mansion. He tells Wade that Art3mis and Shoto both wanted to avoid the distraction of meeting them in person until the battle was over. Wade is relieved and disappointed. Before entering his rig, Wade asks what happened between Morrow and Halliday. Morrow tells him that Halliday was also in love with Kira and became upset and jealous when Morrow married her.
Although most of Wade’s adventures have occurred in the OASIS, his resourcefulness and skills seem to transfer to the real world as he uses his administrator access to escape the IOI building. Wade’s ability to handle real-world threats is surprising given that all his adventures have taken place in the OASIS until now. The skills that Wade learned while living in the stacks prove invaluable when navigating the real-world threats, he faces now. His time spent in the OASIS has also increased his confidence and charisma. Wade’s decision to hide in plain sight at a public OASIS parlor is both risky and smart. Being in an anonymous public space is likely safer than being in his apartment, where the Sixers are more likely to find him.
Although Wade, Aech, Shoto, and Art3mis were all wary of alliances in the past, an alliance has now naturally developed between them. When Wade logs into Aech’s Basement, it is a turning point in the novel. The crew of friends are stronger in their alliance than ever before since, for the first time, competition takes a back seat to collaboration. The friends now share the goal of simply stopping IOI from finding the egg rather than focusing on getting it for themselves. This alliance between the friends will also hopefully extend to the entire gunter community, since working together will increase the chances of keeping the egg out of IOI’s hands. Wade’s knowledge of vintage television shows helps him discover that opening the Third Gate with the Crystal Key will require an alliance between friends. Perhaps Halliday’s intention was to force competitors to stop thinking of only themselves and work together. This seems like an idealistic notion in the dystopia of 2045. However, Halliday’s regrets are well-established, and forcing people to work together could be a way for him to play out his own fantasies of living a less-selfish life.
Although Ogden Morrow’s role in the novel has been minimal, he serves as a guardian angel for Wade and his friends. The friends receive what seems like divine intervention when Odgen Morrow’s avatar, the Great and Powerful Og, appears in the Basement just when they need help the most. Like a guardian angel, Morrow has been watching the friends for some time but has kept his distance. Despite Morrow’s conflicts with Halliday, Morrow still feels a sense of loyalty to Halliday that leads him to agree to protect the contest.
When Wade finds out that Aech is actually a young Black woman, he learns Aech uses of a white, male identity in the OASIS to avoid prejudice. Unlike her mother Marie, Aech has been generous and selfless throughout the novel. Aech proves to be an open, compassionate, and accepting person and uses her OASIS avatar as a shield. This contrasts with Aech’s mother who, despite experiencing prejudice herself, would not put aside her own prejudices and accept Aech’s sexual orientation.