When a user’s avatar dies, the perspective switches to third person and replays the moments leading up to the avatar’s death. Wade watches as a white light obliterates the whole surface of the planet except the Third Gate, and realizes that the Sixers detonated an artifact called the Cataclyst, thereby killing every avatar present and destroying Castle Anorak.
The Sixers played dirty throughout the hunt, so it should perhaps come as little surprise that they would rather obliterate an entire planet than see the gunters successfully reach the egg.
Wade is expecting to see the words “Game Over” when instead another message appears on screen, saying: “Congratulations! You have an extra life!”. His avatar rematerializes inside the crater where the castle once stood. He has lost his entire inventory except the quarter he won by playing a perfect game of Pac-Man. He now realizes that the quarter gave him an extra life, the first time this has happened in OASIS history. Suddenly, Wade hears Aech’s voice, along with that of Morrow, Shoto, and Art3mis. They explain that the Sixers killed every avatar at the battle, including their own army. However, there are still 20 Sixers on the Scoreboard, who must have been waiting at a safe distance away from Chthonia.
When Wade landed on Archaide, he concluded that the planet was a “dead end” only to realize that he could win an egg (though not the egg) through playing Pac-Man. The fact that this accidental detour has now changed the course of Halliday’s hunt—and thus of history—again emphasizes that failures may turn out to be successes in the long run. It also demonstrates that certain experiences can have value even if that value is unclear at the time.
Aech, Shoto, and Art3mis all wish Wade well. Artifacts cannot be destroyed by a Cataclyst blast, so Wade is able to find the artifacts his friends were carrying. He tells his friends that if he obtains the egg, he will split the prize money evenly between the four of them. He explains that he will split the money regardless, but that he would also love to have their help.
This passage demonstrates Wade’s increased maturity at this point in the hunt. Whereas before he had a rather self-centered view of life brought on by his intense isolation, by now he understands that his relationships with others are what gives his life meaning.