whiteout ˈ(h)wītout | noun
1. a blizzard, especially in polar regions, that reduces visibilities to near zero.
2.a weather condition in which the features and horizon of snow-covered country are indistinguishable due to uniform light diffusion.
She was bored.
There was nothing to do. The excitement level was zero. But that was what she wanted when she requested this assignment. No one else wanted it, so she took it, gladly, needing to go somewhere that wouldn't cause her to jump at the slightest sound or movement. She was isolated here, free of worry and fear. A great place to rebuild, rise from the ashes of what she once was, and become more.
But that's not what she did.
It had been well over year—closer to two, yet nothing had change. She was still here, content and happy in her boredom. The fire that had once burned like an inferno inside her had dimmed, tampered down by the harsh and tragic consequences of her past actions. But that's why she had come here, to the bottom of the world.
Kate Beckett had come here to escape.
Once, what now seemed like long ago, she was a rising star in the New York Police Department. She had been the youngest woman to make detective in department history. She probably could have made captain someday. She was tough, resilient. One of the best detectives at the Twelfth Precinct. She kicked ass and took names like it was nothing. She excelled at her job. She was an expert interrogator. She owned that box. Confessions would come spilling out like there was no tomorrow.
But she had a past. A tragic past. Her mother had been killed when she was nineteen, found in some dirty alley up in Washington Heights. The police had ruled it random gang violence. After all, she had been found in a bad neighborhood. Johanna Beckett's death became her daughter's defining moment. Everything Kate Beckett did from then on was a result of that grief and anger.
It drove her. Gave her purpose.
She dropped out of Stanford, transferred to NYU, and eventually enrolled in the New York Police Academy, soon becoming one of their top recruits. She was tenacious, like a dog with a bone. However, she was also broken, consumed with obsession.
Eventually that obsession got the better of her.
She spiraled, unable to stop herself from digging, grasping for straws. The obsession became her life. The only one who seemed to truly understand her drive and stubborn refusal to give up had been her training officer. But, just like everyone else in her life, he left, abandoned her when she needed him most. She survived, as she always did. Kate Beckett was a survivor. She learned to live with it, eventually recognizing the destructiveness of it. So, she buried it, deep down and ignored the insidious need for answers.
But something like that, so ingrained and brutal, couldn't stay buried for long. Eventually it resurfaced, turned destructive. It took her captain, the man who had been her mentor and friend. He was dead now, having sacrificed himself in a misguided attempt at redemption—to save her. And she hated him for it. But she also loved him for it. Her feelings for Roy Montgomery would always be complex and conflicted.
The whole incident had become the second defining moment of her life, especially what happened afterwards. She had been shot in the chest at his funeral while delivering the eulogy. And she'd nearly died.
But she didn't.
After all, Kate Beckett was a survivor.
However, for the first time in her life, Beckett's drive to never give up failed her. She was battered and bruised. Defeated. And scared. Her life was being assaulted from every direction. A phantom villain wanted her dead. The pressure to project strength weighed heavily on her. It was almost suffocating. She couldn't put on a mask and pretend anymore. So, when she was well enough to return to work, Kate Beckett shocked everyone and resigned from the NYPD, instead joining the U.S. Marshal Service, requesting the least exciting and least desirable position possible.
Six million square miles of ice. The coldest place on Earth. Forty-six countries had competing claims and maintained outposts. The Antarctic Treaty held these claims in check. There was no regular law enforcement there. She was the lone U.S. Marshal assigned to the territory.
There really wasn't much action out here for a law enforcement officer. No homicides, mostly just minor offenses, petty theft and stuff like that. Earlier that morning Beckett had to make the trek over to Biology Building Number 7 where some asinine professor wanted to report the disappearance of some plant samples.
"They took it all!" he had exclaimed, a little crazed.
"All what?" Beckett had questioned, already having a strong suspicion from just her observations of the laboratory and the sniggering assistants.
"Cannabis Stavia," he had reluctantly admitted.
Beckett had given him a long, hard look, one she had perfected during her tenure with the NYPD. She had then dug her badge and credentials out of her inside pocket, showing them to the crazed professor, and insisted he read them aloud.
"What's this say?"
He had just stared down with a confused expression.
"C'mon, go ahead, read it," she had coaxed, annoyed.
He had anxiously licked his lips before complying. "Kate Beckett."
"United States Marshal."
And then she had looked him square in the eye and had asked, "Are you still sure you want to report the theft of an illegal narcotic?"
And that was pretty much how most of her cases went these days.
Sighing, Beckett carded her fingers through her hair. She had too much time to think down here. Too much to regret. But that's what she signed up for, wasn't it? She had wanted the time and isolation, so that she could use it to do some serious self-reflection, rebuild herself, become more than who she had been. At least that had been her intent when she'd resigned from the NYPD, and walked out on her old life, to come down here to the bottom of the world. Such plans as these hardly ever turned out the way they were intended.
Closing her eyes, she inhaled the crisp, recycled air and allowed herself the brief pleasure of thinking of him: The way his hair flopped down over his forehead; His blue eyes, sharp with intellect and mischief. He always challenged her, kept her on her toes. Her heart thrummed beneath her breast the longer she thought of him. She had now ceased refuting his claims to be ruggedly handsome. He was, so very much. Out of everything she had left behind, with the exception of her father, she probably missed him the most.
But that was another life, the one before.
The radio transmitter beeped, interrupting her sentimental ruminations.
Kate Beckett slid off the small bed, padding across her tiny, cramped quarters, and pulled the device up out the charging cradle.
"Beckett," she answered in her customary fashion.
"Good afternoon, Marshal," came the Texas drawl of the McMurdo base communications officer. "We've got a pilot at ASB who thinks he spotted something out on the ice."
That answer threw Beckett for a moment. "McClain Valley?" she questioned, brow furrowed, glancing at the large map of Antarctica on the wall, searching for the location. Spotting it, her eyebrows rose in surprise. "What was he doing out there? That's no man's land."
"Don't know," he replied. "But the base commander wants you to check it out. That's if you're not too busy."
Beckett almost laughed. "Oh, yes, Pete, you know me, always so busy," she played along. She was never busy. The binder—labeled DAILY REPORTS—that sat on her desk was filled with dozens of pages reading "INCIDENT: Petty Theft. ACTION TAKEN: None" or "INCIDENT: Public Intoxication. ACTION TAKEN: None" or something to that effect. A smirk played across her lips. "I think I can make the time."
"Good to hear, Marshal," Pete replied over the radio, chuckling.
"There's a helicopter waiting to take you to ASB, from there you can hitch a lift with Hobson and he can take you to the location."
"What about Doc?"
"Already on site, helping with the Winter-Over Evac."
Beckett nodded, already reaching for her boots and parka. "Then tell him I'm on my way."