Look at the human race as it is right now if you need further proof. We've devolved somewhat into a clannish mentality, and that's as it should be. We basically are clans at this point, though not due to bloodlines or marriage. Many people have grumbled that it's just too convenient that an entire outpost would decide to take matters into their own hands, implying that the UAS planned this. I'm not discounting it as a possibility, but it seems much more likely to me that these people acted as their own echo chamber. A few people making arguments for attacking their enemies rather than wait in boredom in some frontier locale has a way of gaining traction.
The UAS may have the advantage on us in technology and weapons (and we're pretty sure that's the case), but they're much less aware of the psychological needs of survivors out in the world. We've been through it, we know exactly how the seeds of discord can take root. That's why we rotate our people out and do fun things like have concerts in our little theater. We aren't trying to dominate others; we're just trying to give people lives as close to normal as possible.
We know, via our long-range scouts, that those AWOL people are heading this way. We know where they are and what roads they're using. For once we won't be caught off guard when the time to fight comes. Hell, we might actually get the drop on our attackers for a change. It's a concept that makes my brain hurt. The last time was with the Hunters. We all know how that turned out.
It's interesting to see the difference in how people within the UAS and regular survivors cope with the world. The tragedy is that the UAS folks were mostly cloistered within their bunkers. They had a lot of time to think and plan and consider, to drive themselves batty with ideas of what the world would be like. I'm sure they received reports and such, but the simple fact remains that within those concrete walls their lives were a cake walk compared to what it's like out here.
Pen up a dog long enough and when you do finally open that door he's going to go nuts running around. A person isn't much different except for the ease with which you can focus those energies. The UAS did a brilliant job in aiming that pent-up power at the rest of the world. Make everyone else a target, claim some moral imperative to reclaim society and impose order (ignoring the order already established by the rest of us, of course) and set them loose with a purpose.
The only problem is that some of those people will be on the far end of the bell curve when it comes to interpreting that mission. Being moved from getting regular meals, climate-controlled environs, and many of the creature comforts of the old world into a cold and empty land is hard on a person. It makes them desperate. Thus, the AWOL soldiers.
The other side of the coin is how some survivors have managed to adapt out here in the world despite a total lack of experience doing so. Take Big K, for example. I don't know what his real name is and wouldn't ask, but Big K is one of the guys who came here from North Jackson on the final trip to bring our imported citizens here. K is tall and big in the shoulders. Before The Fall he probably could have played pro football with his frame. He's an interesting guy, as smart as he is big, and before the world went to hell he worked for some big company as a researcher. Spent all his days with his nose in a book or in front of a screen, collecting a paycheck and scarfing down pizza like the rest of us.
Big K works the honey wagon. Which, if you don't remember, means he collects human refuse from our homes. It's a shitty job (pun intended) and no one does it for very long as we rotate people out, but I've yet to hear him complain. Big K always takes a minute or two to talk to me when he stops by, and I've never seen anything negative on his face.
What a difference three years of struggle can make. Spend your adult life working a desk, totally unprepared for the dead to rise and try to eat you, and suddenly shoveling shit seems like easy money. The idea that we should attack some other group on principal rather than from dire need and direct danger is repugnant to him. I asked him yesterday evening when he stopped by. Why risk a relatively safe existence surrounded by good people without serious need?
It's a good question. New Haven and the Union itself seem to be the answer. We've been out here working together to stay alive. Then to build something stable. Then to create conditions for a better future than we could've hoped for when The Fall began. Does K miss his old life? I'm sure he does. We all do. But I can tell you for sure that I've never seen the smooth brown skin on his face crinkle in distaste at his work. He always smiles--because, he says, he knows how much worse it could be. How much worse it has been for all of us in the past.
He's right, of course.