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In The Matrix Reloaded it is revealed that Neo is not the first One to be present within the Matrix, and it is expected that his compassion for humanity will lead him to return to the Source and allow a reboot of the Matrix to maintain the systematic harvesting, and therefore continued existence, of humanity (as his previous incarnations have done). From the film, the Architect says this:

The function of the One is now to return to the Source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which, you will be required to select from the Matrix twenty three individuals – sixteen female, seven male – to rebuild Zion.

Do we know what these initial redpills think/are told concerning the rebuilding of Zion? They obviously believe themselves to be the first to be freed from the Machines each time, as the Zion in the films has no knowledge of its prior destructions, but is it known what they believe concerning how they are free from the Matrix and how their job is now to begin humanity anew and search for "The One"?

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    I'm pretty sure that literally all we know about the earliest days of the Zionese resistance is what Morpheus said in The Matrix "When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth: ‘As long as the Matrix exists the human race will never be free.’" – Valorum Mar 14 at 7:26
  • @Valorum If no one else finds anything about it I'd be happy to accept that as an answer. It would be interesting to know if there was any more to it though, how the Machines plant those initial seeds of control into the real world. – Ongo Mar 14 at 14:01
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We don't know very much about the initial redpills who started each Zion or what they thought. We can piece together some elements of those early days but not much. The best we know is from Morpheus:

When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth: ‘As long as the Matrix exists the human race will never be free.’ After he died the Oracle prophesized his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people.

The Matrix (transcript)

Morpheus doesn't explain how the first were unplugged, so we don't know what the first redpills would have believed about how they were unplugged. If they believed that the man who unplugged them (the previous One) "had the ability to change whatever he wanted" then presumably they just assumed he could unplug them using his own abilities (i.e. without help from the machines, which might hint to them the role of the machines in the cycles of the One).

Morpheus' statement does indicate that the first redpills were taught that the One would return, so they evidently had some notion of their role in searching for the One. The redpills were taught by both the previous One and the Oracle; the Oracle's role in instructing the first redpills is indicated by both the previous quote and another of Morpheus' explanations to Neo:

Neo: So is this the same oracle that made the, uh, prophecy?

Morpheus: Yes. She's very old. She's been with us since the beginning.

Neo: The beginning?

Morpheus: Of the Resistance.

The Matrix (transcript)

The only other information about the first days of Zion that I'm aware of comes from some hints from The Miller's Tale. In it, Morpheus is a boy who is told a story about one of the "earliest" redpills, a man named Geoffrey:

beginning of Geoffrey's story

Geoffrey was responsible for cultivating the first wheat for Zion as a more palatable food than the porridge they normally had to eat. The comic hints at the extreme hardship faced by the earliest members of Zion but doesn't say much about what they thought other than the fact that they were trying to destroy the Matrix:

"destroying the Matrix is our only priority"

Of course, we already knew that the first redpills were taught they they must destroy the Matrix from Morpheus in The Matrix.


It's also possible that the first redpills attempted to reconstruct the true past by exploring the real world. In Hunters and Collectors (H/T @Valorum), we are introduced to a collector redpill named Flint who was an archaeologist in the Matrix. Flint explored the ruins of human cities on the surface of Earth because, he says,

we weren't finding enough around Zion to distinguish what in the Matrix was created by people and what was invented by the machines.

Flint found a variety of artifacts, including books. Clearly the redpills were interested in trying to learn about the past, so it's possible that in some iteration(s) of the Matrix they found something which was left behind by the redpills of a previous iteration. We don't know for sure if the initial redpills were able to do any of this exploring, though -- the early days of each Zion iteration may have always been too dangerous for the initial redpills to do any exploring.

  • Note also that their rescue, hardship and eventual finding/building of Zion is a fiction that the Machines allow to occur. Presumably if things start getting too hard, the Machines would back off a bit or even covertly help them to survive by placing caches of food/equipment for them to "find" – Valorum Mar 14 at 14:30
  • @Valorum Indeed. It's possible that the "disks" Geoffrey found which gave him the idea to grow wheat may have been planted by the machines. – Null Mar 14 at 14:31
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    Dangle the bait just enough to keep the illusion going and things playing in your favor. The Machines clearly had that down pat. The thing they didn't expect..........a One breaking their cycle and sacrificing himself instead, causing a peace instead of a reset. – MissouriSpartan Mar 14 at 14:56
  • You might also want to consider adding in info from Hunters and Collectors. There's some interesting info in there about the early days of collecting equipment and tech and hiding from the 'squiddies' – Valorum Mar 15 at 9:15
  • @Valorum I don't have a physical copy of the comics. That comic is partly available online as an archive but the images aren't available after page 4. Feel free to post your own answer with material from "Hunters and Collectors", or you can even edit my answer if you'd prefer. – Null Mar 15 at 17:39

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