Back on Ludus, Wade sees IOI gunships flying through the sky above him, and is relieved to remember that Ludus is a no-PvP zone. Wade calls Aech via vidfeed. Aech discusses the Sixers descending on Ludus and says that he is going to kill I-r0k. When Wade tells Aech that IOI blew up Aunt Alice’s trailer, Aech promises: “We will make them pay for this.” Wade warns Aech to flee his home, but Aech assures him that he stays on the move and won’t be found. He suggests that they invite Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto to the Basement that evening, and Wade agrees.
Once again, Aech proves himself to be a supportive, selfless friend. Rather than focusing on the danger he is likely in, Aech promises Wade that they will seek revenge on IOI and offers the Basement as a place where the other top gunters can meet. Despite his celebrity status, Aech is more willing than perhaps any other character to form alliances and put others’ needs above his own.
Feeling lonely, Wade logs into the Basement an hour early. All the news channels are showing the Sixers on Ludus. Art3mis arrives, and admiringly calls the Basement “the coolest chat room I’ve ever seen.” Wade feels jealous of how well Aech and Art3mis are getting along. Daito and Shoto arrive; they are both Japanese avatars wearing traditional samurai armor. Art3mis tells the others that the Sixers have found the Tomb, and that they have installed two force fields in order to prevent other gunters from entering the Tomb (while allowing Sixers access). Daito laments that there are “no laws” in the OASIS, and Shoto exclaims that “the Sixers have no honor.”
The fact that the top five gunters in the OASIS are meeting up to discuss developments in the hunt should generate optimism. However, at this point it is clear that each of the characters in this passage feels defeated by the actions of IOI. Although each gunter is different, they generally share the desire to respect Halliday’s hunt and play with “honor.” Unfortunately, IOI do not share this approach.
Wade tells the others about the Sixers’ attempt to kill him. He then tells them about the elaborate Oology Division at IOI, with its team of scholars and experts. Daito suddenly grows suspicious that Wade is proposing they start their own alliance. He points out that there can only be one winner, and he and Shoto log out of the chatroom. Left by themselves, Wade, Aech, and Art3mis agree that they do not actually intend to start an alliance. Art3mis bids them goodbye and leaves. Aech observes that Wade clearly has a crush on her. They discuss the next clue and Wade briefly fears that someone might be listening in on him. Aech assures him that he is just being paranoid, and offers to loan him money or a place to stay if he needs it. Wade thanks him and exits.
The interaction between Art3mis, Aech, and Wade after Daito and Shoto leave suggests that it is possible for rivals to pursue a friendship. Friendship, this passage implies, is not the same thing as an alliance, and it is possible for rivals who are competing with one another to nonetheless remain on friendly, mutually supportive terms. After all, the gunters may be competing with one another, but they also have a common enemy: IOI.