Wade rematerializes inside Tyrell’s office. He returns to the Vonnegut and pulls up his research notes on Halliday’s favorite band, Rush. He finds Rush’s sci-fi themed album 2112 and, on the album artwork, locates the same red star that he saw inside Black Tiger. One of the songs, “The Temples of Syrinx,” contains the clue to the Crystal Key’s location. Wade races to the planet Syrinx, a “desolate world” in Sector 21. On the planet, he finds 1,024 copies of a city called Megadon, which is mentioned in the liner notes of 2112. Once Wade has landed the Vonnegut, he finds the Temple of Syrinx, and is relieved to find that he is seemingly completely alone.
Once again, Wade’s extensive research comes in handy. He is able to recognize the star in which the image of the Crystal Key appeared simply by memory as a result of knowing Halliday’s obsessions so well. At this point, it again seems as if the hunt will favor not the richest, most powerful, or most skilled avatar, but rather the one who knows Halliday and his obsessions inside out.
Wade realizes that he is supposed to put an offering on the altar of the Temple. He tries the robot, but nothing happens. However, another clue from the 2112 liner notes leads him to a waterfall on the outskirts of Megadon, where he discovers a tunnel and cave-like chamber. Inside the chamber, a lever opens a trapdoor, which Wade jumps through. He arrives in a cube-shaped room where there is a 1974 Gibson Les Paul guitar embedded in the stone wall. Wade pulls the guitar from the wall and plays the Rush song “Discovery” on the guitar. After he finishes, another clue appears, which promises that the Crystal Gate “cannot be unlocked alone.”
The clue that Wade receives about the Crystal Gate suggests a major twist to the trajectory of the Easter egg hunt thus far. Up until this point, Wade has worked alone to great success—as have Art3mis and Aech. However, this new clue appears to indicate that no one will be able to clear the Crystal Gate alone. This is somewhat ominous, considering it could provide a massive advantage to the Sixers.
The guitar transforms into the Crystal Key, and Wade receives a further 25,000 points, putting him back ahead of Sorrento. Looking at the guitar, he spots the letter A, which looks exactly the same as one of the character symbols in Halliday’s first Dungeons & Dragons characters sheet. It is the A for Anorak, and the same symbol appears on the gate to Castle Anorak, Halliday’s stronghold on the D&D themed planet Chthonia. Wade returns to the Vonnegut and heads straight to the castle. While travelling there, Wade hears on the news that the Sixers have the entire castle surrounded.
Wade’s brief moment of triumph is soon darkened by the swift progress of the Sixers. The fact that they have the castle surrounded does not bode well. In the past, Wade has arrived in the location of a key or gate either well before or after the Sixers have been there. He has never actually had to face them directly—until now.
Wade arrives on Chthonia to find that the Sixers have installed a magical shield over Castle Anorak. Gunter clans are attacking the shield with nuclear weapons, but they are having no effect. Over the next few days, gunters try everything within their power to destroy the shield, to no avail. People begin to announce that the hunt is basically over. However, Wade remains calm, reasoning that, like any videogame, the hunt has simply reached a new, more difficult level, requiring a new approach. He devises a plan, emailing Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto and telling them how to obtain the Crystal Key. He knows that he is likely to be killed in this final effort, but vows to “reach the Third Gate, or die trying.”
Recall that each time Wade has hit rock bottom and struggled to find any hope in the situation he is in, he receives a new surge of determination and is able to make the impossible happen. This is typical of the story of the underdog, who must beat extremely unlikely odds in order to achieve success—and does so precisely because no one expects them to be able to pull it off.