"I am with you in every endeavor, darling," Dalton said, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves. "But exactly what would freeing the subject accomplish?"
"It's more about preventing what Shell could accomplish," Bellesmith replied, rubbing Pilate's weak legs to get the blood running as he leaned against her weight. "If he gets his way, if he completely dominates power over Rainbow Dash and gets the door to the metal wall open down below, then this world will lose the one spark it has always needed."
"Spark? Belle, there is only one Spark!"
"I've seen things, Dalton. I've lived another life. Rainbow Dash needs to be freed."
"Belle, something obviously went awry when we hooked you up to that pegasus from Aridstone," Dalton said. "I fought and fought with Shell to have mercy on your exhausted nerves—"
"There's no telling just how many intense hallucinations you endured—"
"I was visited by an Alicorn, Dalton!" Belle exclaimed. She looked up at him, frowning. "Her name is Whitemane, and she had left an imprint of her holy magic on Rainbow Dash's soul. When I communed with Rainbow Dash's consciousness, I communed with her. Whitemane showed me the life of Rainbow Dash, along with her pain and her joys and her travels. She's on a mission that I barely understand—that I don't think Rainbow herself understands—but I am convinced it is for the good of this world."
"Caring about the world is a noble thing, darling," Dalton said. "But we can only do so much as it is for the Confederacy. The Council of Ledo is always present and—"
"Since when has the Council or the Enforcers done anything good for this world? Ever?!" Bellesmith seethed. "All they want is more power and more loyalty in order to win this stupid war, and to what end? We'll destroy ourselvse, Dalton. We've already destroyed so much of our culture, eradicated all of the diversity of beloveds past and present, just to support the legacy of a hollow matriarchy that serves only itself and not ponydom."
Dalton opened his mouth, but ultimately hung his head.
"I can't make you help us, Dalton," Belle murmured, leaning forward as she supported Pilate's hobbling weight. "But I ask that you don't try to stop us."
"She's onto something, Dalton," Pilate added in a hoarse voice. He cleared his throat and managed to add, "Whatever he's unearthed down there, it's something older than the Confederacy, older than most ponydom, and older than time. In an attempt to finish a war, Shell might find that whatever power he gains from the heart of this world, he won't stop using it until there's no world left to conquer."
"Rainbow Dash is the Spark to something greater than all of us, and we can't let Shell have that Spark." Belle took a deep breath. "Nopony should be allowed to have that Spark, but the Spark itself."
"I know... I understand..." Dalton shuddered. "It's just... He would stop at nothing to keep the subject here. How do you even plan to get her out of here, assuming she's in one piece?"
"She is in one piece. Whitemane's assured me of it." Belle managed a tiny smile. "And let me worry about what needs to be done when we get her."
"Well, let's friggin' do something already, jeez," Grinder muttered, staring anxiously out into the concrete hallway. "We're doing nothing but gathering dust here, waiting for some haybrained guard to eviscerate us."
"Okay... okay... okay..." Dalton leaned against a wall and ran a hoof through his gray mane. "Let me think. Please. Let me just... think of a way through this..."
Belle took a deep breath, trembling slightly in the sudden silence of the moment.
Pilate tried to take a step, but stumbled. "Ow ow ow..." He winced.
Belle steadied him. "Are you okay? Can you walk?"
"So long as you're with me," he said. Gulping, he lifted his muzzle towards her and managed a weak smile. "Listen to you... All brave and daring."
"Mmmmm..." Belle's cheeks turned red. "I've never been so sure about something in my life. Is that a crime?"
"I don't know. I rather like it."
"Well it did get us back together, didn't it?"
"Did Whitemane truly put you through all of those fainting spells just to give a message?"
"I wasn't just given a message, Pilate," Belle said. "I lived it. It was the only way I could understand..."
Belle exhaled and murmured, "That Rainbow Dash is supremely important."
Pilate gulped and remarked, "Even more important than us?"
Belle leaned in and nuzzled him. "Austraeoh needs us, Pilate. Don't you realize that? Our lives wouldn't be the same if she hadn't been brought to Blue Shelf. We're her means of rebirth, so she can be reacquainted with her spirit of endurance."
Pilate whispered, "Eljunbyro."
Belle leaned against him and nodded.
"But... But from what you told me, she should be dead. How could she have survived all the torment and pain she went through before Aridstone?"
"I think the answer is simple, Pilate," Belle said. "I think Rainbow Dash is more important than herself too."
"Okay..." Dalton spoke up. "I have a plan."
Belle looked up. "A way to reach Rainbow Dash?"
"We can't just grab the subject and cart her away. She's locked up inside her sarcophagus within the Alpha Storage Compartment of Department Blue."
"Then let's take an elevator down there and find her!"
"We can't do that!" Dalton hissed, glancing past Grinder and into the hallway. Fidgeting, he lowered his voice and whispered, "Alpha Storage is locked off, even to the likes of me. Only Shell's Enforcer stallions possess the means of opening the doors to that chamber."
"Then how are we to get to this darn pony?" Grinder exclaimed. "You said you have a plan."
"The sarcophagus is made to raise up via a platform through the ceiling separating Department Blue and the laboratory chambers of this level. If we go to the sequencing chamber, we just might be able to get the subject to reach us and gain access to her from there."
Belle suddenly gasped. "The sequencing chamber..." Her chestnut eyes glinted, as if she was staring at a ruby sheen in the midst of so much darkness. "Of course! There's something else in there! Something important!"
"How important?" Grinder remarked with a glare.
"If we want the subject to come out of Blue Shelf alive, we need to grab what's in the sequencing room too."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Pilate asked. "I certainly don't want to stick around in this place any longer."
"Sounds like a plan to me!" Grinder proceeded to shove everyone roughly into the hallway. "Lead the way, mustachio!" he grunted at Dalton in particular as they all broke into a swift trot. "Let's make like turds and roll out!"