Beginning of story
That first night Outside I dreamt I was back in the City, living the life of crime I had had before I got caught. So when I finally did wake up, for a little bit it seemed like being Exiled was the dream. Then as the reality sunk in, there was nothing I wanted more than to go back to that dream world. And believe me, I tried. But my body was having none of it. The pile of twigs and branches may have been softer and warmer than the ground, but they were nowhere near the bed I had been accustomed to sleeping in. What warmth that had been gathered from the previous day had dissipated, and my clothes would only have been adequate if I had 2 or 3 layers of them.
The discomfort of the cold on my body finally won out over the depression over my situation, and I moved to the other corner of the Shelter where the sun's rays were starting to warm things up. Sitting there I took stock of the situation. Thankfully, the Citizens had been very logical and methodical; they only took what they could use, and they only destroyed what they saw as a threat. Of course, the roaster I had made, falling into both categories, was completely missing -- no surprise there. Most importantly, the cistern and biofilter appeared untouched. Of course, there no longer was any roof to feed water into the cistern, and who knew how long the biofilter would last with the shelter no longer fully intact to protect it. For the time being, though, I didn't have to worry about fresh water. Which was good, because I suddenly realized how thirsty I actually was, having not had anything since before my sentencing.
The Shelter was designed primarily for growing plants, not for people to live in, so there were none of the amenities like sinks I was used to having in the City. The output of the biofilter drained into a small covered reservoir, as much as the plants in the Shelter would use in a couple days, which was plenty for my purposes. I carefully brushed off an access panel so no debris would fall in. Then I opened it up, took a little water to wash off my hands as best I could, and wiped them on a clean spot on my clothes. Finally I cupped my hand and drunk my fill of the water. It definitely tasted strange to compared to City water, which really had very little taste.
The cistern was massive, taking up the entire north wall, as it needed to be to store the winter rains through the summer heat. It also helped moderate the temperature to prevent occasional frosts from killing plants inside the Shelter. With the glazing gone, both those functions would soon cease. Still, checking the hatch, the level was pretty close to full, so it would be all I needed well into summer.
When the water system had been fully intact, it was quite a testament to the Founder's genius. The angle of the collection grate encourage debris to wash down while the water ran in. The first few minutes worth of rain was shunted off so the roof was relatively clean by the time the water started filling the cistern. Everything worked by gravity or capillary action, no moving parts were involved. In addition to supplying the needs of the plants, the water worked with the passive ventilation system to keep the temperatures moderate during the summer. I wonder how long the Founders had to work with that to get that balance just right.
With my thirst slaked and the chill of the night burning off, I decided it was time to stop admiring the handiwork of the Founders and start the work of the day.
Part 7: Buried Treasure