The Battle of Vega Colony didn’t simply herald the return of a more militant, more dangerous Borg threat; it also witnessed the wholesale slaughter of some of Starfleet’s most skilled officers. In the weeks following the Borg incursion, the already hard-pressed Starfleet was forced to reshuffle its entire command structure, promoting hundreds of experienced, if unexceptional, veterans from the homefront to the front lines. This resulted in dozens of vacancies among the fleet’s so-called “milk-run captaincies”, commands that saw outdated vessels run mundane but essential missions throughout the Sirus Sector.
The recently-promoted Lieutenant MacKenzie Mallon was the beneficiary of just such a captaincy, and in mid-2409 became the acting captain of the the U.S.S. Kosciuszko (NCC-93542). The Koscuiszko was exactly what you would expect from the first command of a recently-promoted ensign — dilapidated and decades out-of-date, the Kosciuszko was suited only for the simplest of scientific surveys in the Delta Volanis Expanse. Perhaps worse yet, Mallon and her crew had to contend with the Oberth-class’ unlucky history: the gruesome fates of the Vico, the Tsiolkovsky and the Yosemite are the stuff of Federation urban legend, and among the most superstitious of Starfleet personal, assignment to an Oberth is akin to a death sentence.
Lieutenant Mallon refused to let either her ship’s age or its ill-fated legacy dampen her crews’ spirits. Under her command, the Koscuiszko made a name for itself as a dependable cargo escort, helping carry goods from Vulcan and Andoria to recently established colonies throughout the Delta Volanis Expanse. It was in this capacity that the Koscuiszko came to the aid of the damaged S.S. Azura, saving its crew from the depredations of Orion pirates. Also of note, the Koscuiszko participated in the successful evacuation of Starbase 24, evading the incoming Klingon attack force long enough to transport out the base’s remaining civilian staff.
But perhaps the Koscuiszko‘s most famous engagement was the Battle of Iota Australis 469. Over the course of a two-day period, the Koscuiszko successfully defended the Iota Australis research station from four Strekkelan attack waves, including one lead by the Strekkelan command cruiser Trokent. The after-action report attributed victory not only to Mallon’s unflagging leadership, but also to the engineering enhancements the captain had ordered to the ship’s plasma manifolds. Such a striking combination of command and engineering ability drew the attention of more than one Starfleet admiral.