now, in reverse

By all physical appearances, there was nothing about the data chip that Kang danced about in his fingers, flipping over and over again as if there was some secret to the universe hidden within its contents yet to be cracked, that boded concern. It was top of the line, not-so-standard issue even to those with deep credit accounts, and one might have dared say experimental, but its purpose was conventional; but for all its plainness in stark white carbon with embellishments of red in operational lights and imprinted model numbers, Kang knew well enough it wasn’t the device itself so much as the data that had been on it that would be dangerous if fallen into the wrong hands. It wasn’t to say his own had been the right ones, all the trouble it had been to acquire it and all the pitfalls it had led him into, and neither had been the data port he had removed it from, held by anonymous parties until such a time that Kang, record cleared, could reclaim it, but ideology spoke volumes and there were others in the galaxy, far worse individuals with it, who could do much worse.

But for all the knowledge he knew there could be on such a device, put up on a shelf for the better part of a year, perhaps going on two, he had yet to bring himself to do anything more than stare at it in all its material property. It wasn’t so much a puzzle to be cracked - he knew well enough what had been on it, had seen it with his own two eyes once upon a time, and unless his trusted confidants had tinkered with the chip to lead to firewalls where there shouldn’t have been any and security features he couldn’t break, getting into it would have been no issue - but the matter of a single question, one he found himself asking repeatedly in his far off gaze on something so inconspicuously small.

Did he want to?

Another twist of his fingers hadn’t provided him the answer and neither had a second, the poisonous nature of such knowledge contained within the chip warranting concern despite what promise of advancement it had been partnered with. A third and a fourth twist found him considering the implications of such a dive into exploratory ventures, less based in factual sciences and practices and more into fantastical theory, and where it fit along the precision curve of his own principles and ethics and a line of work that could ultimately be improved by advancement, however come upon it was by maligned operation. As fruits of the poisonous tree saw information, valid or not, tainted by its obtainment, was this only a reflection of the same?

It was a difficult line to cross: on one hand, experimental data could prove useful and in the other, it was ripping the bandage off a nightmare that he had spent the past year and then some enduring the aftermath of; an endurance run of legal proceedings, investigations and the like, and psychiatric evaluations meant to ensure his mental stability, and at the end of it all, there had been resolution. Still, it felt empty, a void easily recognized even now as he sat in his office - all the world and none of the rapture.

A fifth brought that consideration home as he flicked it back into his hand, shutting his fingers around it with a firm grip that might have readily seen it crushed if he wasn’t careful; and for a moment, but only just, he considered erasing it, stripping the device, removing anything of worth, and scrapping the part entirely. What a relief that would have been.

And what a loss.