It was times like these that reminded her how brief a time had passed since the day they'd unplugged him. A matter of weeks, and no one could have all their questions answered in such a short period of time—or, indeed, asked. He had another; she didn't mind explaining, much. After all, it was part of her duty as an established crew member to give the newbie answers; she and Cypher were both off shift, but Cypher had gone to bed long ago. Normally she might have pleaded business elsewhere, but something about him made her want to keep a close eye on his progress.
"Twenty-five, usually." He was asking about the uppermost age limit imposed for unplugging, and she folded her hands around the steel mug she held, to warm it as they talked. "After that, it's almost always unsuccessful. They're too attached to what they believe to be the real world to accept the truth. You weren't the oldest we've ever freed, but close to it. You were the oldest that survived." She watched Neo take a deep breath, scrubbing his long, thin fingers through the fuzz that barely covered his pale skull, and sipped her drink.
"How old?" He met her eyes, and she understood what he meant without further elaboration.
"Thirty-eight." Morpheus thought he was the One, too. She didn't say it, averting her gaze and appearing to check the level in the food dispensers. "He went crazy not long after he woke up here."
Neo decided not to speak the next thing that came to his mind, shifting his feet under the table. Instead he watched Trinity for a moment, before voicing another question. "If twenty-five is the oldest age you can unplug people, wouldn't that mean most of the people that you pull out are just kids?"
She exhaled slowly for a moment, nodding in response. "Yeah. Seven is about the youngest they've gone, though." Anticipating his next thought—how many times had she been here before?—she continued, "Some of the adults stay in Zion to look after them until they're old enough to go out with a crew; teaching, training them and so on. The free-born, mostly, since they can't go into the Matrix."
"How many children?" she asked, just to clarify. He nodded, tilting his head to look at her from a different angle. "At the moment, about two hundred in Zion—something like a sixth of those kids are free-born. Matrix-born women need extensive hormone treatments before they can have children, if at all."
A quick, hard pang flared in the pit of her stomach, and she pushed it down, taking another drink to disguise the emotion.
"The machines altered us gradually when they found a way of reproducing humans from inside the pods. It's all in the Zion archives, everything we've found out over the years. Apparently it took them a while to figure out how to wire humans into the system to begin with, but once it was done they managed to use IVF techniques without removing the humans from their pods and risking damage to their power source." Trinity bit back a sigh, getting up and taking her mug to the sink to rinse it. "None of us work normally in that sense without having medical treatment."
She looked up from the water in time to catch the flicker of sadness in Neo's eyes, and immediately regretted going into the detail that she had. Clearing her throat and glancing at the clock, she announced, "I'm on shift in five minutes. Switch should be around if you have any more questions, Neo, but I suggest you get some sleep." Guarded, she turned to face him and gave a brief nod of acknowledgement before heading for the door.
She'd told him more than enough.