Part Two of Ready Player One opens on a chat between Art3mis and Wade (as his avatar, Parzival). In the conversation, Art3mis fended off Wade’s advances to varying degrees of success as he confessed to her that he had a crush on her and wanted a cyber romance. Art3mis told Wade that she didn’t want to talk again until after she found the egg. They logged off. But Wade emailed her anyway, and they struck up a correspondence. They began to meet daily in chatrooms, and eventually, they fell in love. They stopped valuing the hunt as much as spending time with each other.
They were invited to Ogden Morrow’s birthday party. It was dangerous, as it was on a world that allowed fighting and was compatible with both technology and magic. Wade was nervous even though he had recently gotten up to the 99th level. He met Art3mis at the event and they danced. Wade told Art3mis that he loved her for the first time. Art3mis said that Wade didn't know what real love was. She ended things between the two of them.
Before Art3mis could leave, Sixers besieged the dance hall. Wade realized that news of his and Art3mis’ presence at the dance hall must have tipped Sorrento off to the possibility of killing them. For a moment it seemed like they were in serious trouble, but then Ogden intervened and vaporized all of the Sixers in the hall. Wade was “awestruck”: “it was the most incredible display of power by an avatar I’d ever seen” (189). Wade looked for Art3mis but she had vanished.
In the weeks following being dumped by Art3mis, Wade pulled away from the real world and immersed himself completely into his quest. Wade had upgraded his computer and virtual reality tools in these weeks as well. He created himself a state-of-the-art immersion rig. All of his senses were heightened and keyed into the OASIS, and no part of him remained tethered to the world. His only interaction became that with his new virtual assistant, named Max.
Six months had passed since the second clue was found, and it had yet to be deciphered. Wade’s relationship with Aech had also suffered, and the two now barely spoke. In order to pay his bills as well as cover the costs of searching for the next key, Wade got a job as an IT customer service rep, helping people manage problems on their devices.
One day, Wade logged out of his work device to find that Art3mis had found the second key. Wade knew that the Sixers had recently obtained Fyndoro’s Table of Finding, which allowed its users to find any avatar they wanted once a day. The device could be used to locate whichever avatar had just found a key or a gate in order to know where the key or gate itself was. The Sixers quickly converged onto Sector Seven. Wade’s drive to find the second key solidified in a way it hadn’t since he gained his lead in the game. He wanted to prove himself to Art3mis, and end the Hunt as soon as possible so that she would talk to him again.
The knowledge that Art3mis had found the key on sector seven gave Wade a lead, and he traveled to planet Archaide.
During the chat conversation, Art3mis struggled to accept that Wade had a crush on her. She protested, stating “you still don’t really know anything about me. Or my real personality” (170). Wade disagreed and said that in the OASIS, “Everything about our online personas is filtered through our avatars, which allows us to control how we look and sound to others” (170). Wade argued that this had caused him to care less and less about physical appearance and that this ability to be whoever you wanted to be is what caused the OASIS to be so addicting to so many people. Later, it would be this exact reason that would cause Art3mis to deny Wade’s love for her. She told him he lived inside of an illusion, and that meant that he didn’t know what real love was.
Wade learned an important lesson when the Sixers attacked. He needed to realize that no matter how he felt about Art3mis, he was dealing with a very dangerous group of people who wanted to see him dead. He needed to focus up and begin playing the game more strategically again.
In the days after the breakup with Art3mis, Wade changed. Not only did he recommit himself to his goal of finding the second key, but he began to work out due to the positive influence of health software. In his shower unit, he regularly removed all the hair from his body, which helped his haptic suit fit more snugly. He had effectively tailored his entire life to the demands of the Hunt, and left everything else, including his friendships, behind. Although Wade committed more and more to this new lifestyle, this commitment came with a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the OASIS and its separation from reality. Wade was aware that who he was in real life was nothing compared to who he was in the OASIS: “World-famous gunter and international celebrity” (198).
Wade’s passphrase to log on to his system has also changed. It became: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful” (198). This idea was at odds with the very nature of the OASIS, which had the power to make any desire real. Wade seemed to be keying in more firmly with reality, that is the world outside of the internet, and he seemed to value the rules of that world more than those of this virtual “prison.”