Voyage of the Nightingale

The chronicle of the final voyage of the medical relief ship GSC Nightingale.

Ship’s History

History of the Galactic Settlers’ Command

In 2031, an unidentified bioterrorist organization detonated dirty bombs in major cities all over the world, including New York, Beijing, London, Sao Paolo, and Sydney. The bombs contained a hybrid Ebola-smallpox virus, which spread nearly unchecked throughout the human population on Earth. It was not until 2036 that the virus was brought under control, and though it had wreaked irreparable damage to every nation on Earth, it had also forced these nations to work together and form diplomatic bonds that would eventually pave the way to near-global peace.

In 2040, a coalition of nations–including the United States, Great Britain, China, Russia, and others–unveiled their plans for space exploration and settlement. The agreed-upon name for this coalition was originally the Multinational Space Coalition (MSC), and under this auspice, four ships of 100 settlers each were put into orbit around Mars. These self-sustaining stations were named for each of the four cardinal directions, and from them, 400 specialists in fields ranging from biochemistry and nuclear physics to animal husbandry and agriculture were able to successfully establish livable biospheres on the Martian surface.

In 2057, four years after settlement, political unrest in the colony threatened the continued success of the biospheres. When the Earth-based countries received word of the unrest, they assembled and deployed a military peacekeeping force to Mars. The unrest was solved with no bloodshed, and the MSC underwent radical restructuring. What emerged was what is now known as the Galactic Settlers’ Command (GSC).

System Expansion

After the successful settlement of Mars, the GSC set its sights on other planets and satellites in the Sol star system. While most planets are composed largely of gas, there are certainly no shortage of solid satellites and other orbiting objects, and the GSC established settlements on many of them. The GSC also controls the majority of artificial satellites in the Sol star system.

History of the GSC Nightingale

In April of 2129, a bout of hemorrhagic fever broke out on a station orbiting Ganymede; within weeks, the plague had claimed over half of the station’s population. Residents of the station fled to nearby settlements, and unfortunately many of the refugees carried the disease unknowingly. Medical facilities were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the dead and dying, which would eventually total over one million.

In June, the GSC dispatched a medical ship named GSC Settler’s Comfort to help the survivors of the plague. The medical teams on the ship acted swiftly and provided round-the-clock care, and they were able to reduce the fever’s mortality rate from over 50% to under 5%. This prompted a parallel drawn between them and the 19th Century nurse Florence Nightingale, the “Lady with the Lamp.”

After the plague’s decline and eventual demise, the GSC renamed Settler’s Comfort to Nightingale to reflect the tremendous work done by the doctors and nurses aboard the ship. The Nightingale has been in service ever since, and was relaunched as a medical and nursing school in 2173. Every four years, the ship leaves its dock on Earth and makes a four-year journey to the system’s neediest settlements, providing life-saving medical care and treatment that would otherwise go un-given. Upon its return to Earth, the Nightingale drops off two hundred new doctors and nurses, as well as veteran medical professionals it picked up from distant settlements.

The Nightingale’s prestige has turned its application process into a contest between thousands of applicants. Two hundred spots are available: 100 medical students and 100 nursing students. Only the best applicants are considered based upon academic performance, previous service, fitness for interplanetary travel, and likeliness to successfully complete the trip. There have been zero washout students aboard the Nightingale, a feat instructors credit to the rigorous application process.

The Nightingale’s invaluable rounds have served the GSC’s mission of total health and welfare of its 16.9 billion settlers, cementing its place in GSC history for all time.

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