The UAS didn't take many chances with Pearson, the little town they hit. Shelling from a distance, they released several volleys in short order. The people in Pearson were alerted a few minutes before the attack came thanks to a few brave scouts. Their evacuation plans were excellent and the people no-nonsense about following them. Losing a third of the population is hard and terrible, but in this situation it's a best-case scenario. Nothing short of science fiction could have stopped those mortar shells from hitting, and the damage they did was catastrophic. I have a sneaking suspicion that casualties would have been close to 100% if the good people hadn't leaped into action the way they did.
From what I understand the UAS targeted the side of the town farthest from their position. Makes sense. That must have seemed like the most likely escape route. Pearson is part of the Union, though. We've all had way too much experience trying to get out of tight spots to trust just one major avenue of escape. That's part of why so many people got away; the bolt holes and hidden doors built all through their walls. Those people scattered into the night.
The reason Pearson was targeted is clear. Being the closest agricultural center to UAS territory, with hundreds of acres of crops, the place was almost destined to be hit fast. Faster than we expected, clearly. But not faster than we planned for.
I imagine the UAS thought the people would run in fear, keep moving through the night, and leave the town and its environs in enemy hands. And why not? Hadn't they just lost a huge portion of their friends, family, and neighbors? That expectation is rational. It's not at all what happened, but I get it. Because the UAS, no matter how much time they spend fighting us and dealing with us as a reality, never seem to learn the fucking lesson.
The Union is full of people, civilian and former military alike, who have had to toughen up beyond all reasonable expectation. We can watch a friend become a wet conglomeration of flesh chunks and bone from a mortar shell and keep on walking, never letting the mission leave our minds. We'll weep about it later and lament his passing, but our people do so only after the job is done.
Which is why most of those hundreds of acres are still on fire as I write this. We've got a whole third of the nation to plant in. We've been at it for a while. Hell, we even have contingents of people from the eastern communities setting up farms out in the boonies. Large-scale operations that will feed many, many thousands. We've got backups for our backups where food is concerned.
You can come at us all you want. We can't stop you. But you'll have to kill every single human being in the Union to be free of us, and to be sure we don't do the same to our other crops. In the end you might win, but all you will take is the scorched earth we leave behind and an unending war with the scattered remnants of our people. That I can assure you.