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Battle of the Briar Patch

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The Battle of the Briar Patch took place between the USS Enterprise-E and two Son'a battle cruisers. The two Son'a cruisers were ordered by Ahdar Ru'afo, with the consent of Vice Admiral Matthew Dougherty, to intercept the Enterprise.

The Enterprise was forced to defend herself against the Son'a and was ultimately victorious, thanks to a highly unorthodox and dangerous but brilliant tactic performed by her first officer, Commander William T. Riker, who was temporarily in command of the ship.

Prelude Edit

The Enterprise, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, arrived at the Ba'ku planet to retrieve Lieutenant Commander Data, who had been involved in a "duck blind" mission on the surface and had gone out of control. Picard and his crew learned that Data had been damaged in an attack, and continued to investigate further, discovering a cloaked Federation holoship with a recreation of the Ba'ku village. Confronting Admiral Dougherty, Picard discovered that the admiral intended to relocate the six hundred Ba'ku villagers, permitting the Son'a to deploy their collector to collect metaphasic radiation in the planet's rings. The effect would render the planet incapable of sustaining life for generations. Along with several of his officers, Picard elected to remain behind to keep the planet inhabited, knowing the Son'a would not deploy the collector with people still on the surface, while Commander Riker took the Enterprise outside the Briar Patch in order to be within communications range of Starfleet and inform them of the planned Federation/Son'a atrocity. However, with the properties of the Briar Patch making warp travel all but impossible and forcing the Enterprise to limit her top speed to no more than one-third impulse, this would not be a quick journey.

Aware that this revelation to Starfleet would scupper if not put an end to Ru'afo's plans, he proposed to Admiral Dougherty that the two Son'a cruisers in his force be dispatched to intercept the Enterprise before she came within range of contacting Starfleet and escort the Federation vessel away, though the Enterprise may not be escorted willingly by the Son'a. Despite knowing that Ru'afo's proposal was not going to come out peacefully, Dougherty knew he would likely face investigation for his role in the Ba'ku relocation should the Enterprise notify Starfleet about the truth of this mission, forcing him to quietly allow Ru'afo send his ships.

The battle Edit

As the Son'a vessels intercepted the Enterprise, Commander Riker gave the order to tell the Son'a that their communication systems were malfunctioning, that they could send messages but not receive them. The message was responded to with a photon torpedo. Knowing that the Son'a were not going to allow the Enterprise to make contact with Starfleet, Riker ordered full impulse (despite the risk to the engines) and to return fire to the Son'a.

The assault by the Son'a ships reduced the Enterprise's shields to just 60 percent but this was not the only problem as the Enterprise faced destruction "without the Son'a's help" – by her own deuterium supply exploding as a result of the Federation vessel traveling at full impulse through the Briar Patch – the deuterium was now burning in engineering because the ship's impulse manifolds were now overheating. The problem only became worse when the Son'a detonated an isolytic burst just aft of the Enterprise. The great ship faced destruction by the subsequent subspace tear that formed by the detonation as her warp core was acting like a magnet to the tear, with the tear being pulled closer and closer.

Chief Engineer La Forge suggested ejecting the warp core and detonating it within the subspace tear to seal it. However, this suggestion only had a possibility of working as the unpredictable nature of subspace weapons gave no guarantees that such a plan would work. Just seconds away from destruction by the subspace tear and having no alternative solution, Commander Riker gave the order to eject the core, though La Forge had already done so by this point. As the warp core came into contact with the tear, it was detonated and the massive resultant explosion produced a shock wave that hurled the Enterprise across space, severely damaging the ship and injuring many officers. However, they were successful as the tear had been sealed though there was nothing to prevent the Son'a from detonating another isolytic burst as the Enterprise was "fresh out of warp cores". Riker now knew that if he wanted any chance of being able to contact Starfleet, he would have to confront the Son'a rather than run away from them.

Because the Son'a vessels outgunned the Enterprise, Riker would have to devise a cunning strategy to defeat the his opponents. He set a course for one of the clouds, full of volatile metreon gas. Despite the warning that the Enterprise would be destroyed if the Son'a fired on her while in the cloud, Riker went ahead with his plan. The Bussard collectors were used to collect the metreon gas until the reserves were full and after leaving the cloud, Riker turned control of the Enterprise to the manual steering column to perform some delicate flying. As Riker piloted the ship away from the Son'a, her Bussard collectors were vented, leaving a trail of metreon gas in the wake of the Enterprise. At this point, one of the Son'a vessels fired upon the Federation vessel but this would have disastrous consequences for the Son'a. The photon torpedo ignited the gas, turning it into a massive fireball, which engulfed and destroyed the first Son'a vessel and debris from the destroyed battle cruiser impacted with the second battle cruiser, disabling it. Commander Riker was victorious with a tactic that was dubbed as the Riker Maneuver by Commander La Forge. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Some observations and suggestions about how the Battle of the Briar Patch was depicted in the first draft script of Star Trek: Insurrection were made by the executives at Paramount Pictures, in a memo sent to the "Star Trek team" on 3 December 1997. It commented, "We would like Riker’s battle with the two Son’a ships to be as riveting as any Star Trek battle to date [....] Because the Son’a are not yet much of a threat, this battle is not particularly dramatic. Also, because the ships are moving slowly, the battle does not seem that thrilling. What would happen if Riker jumped to warp, or full impulse power in the Briar Patch?" The document then proposed that the battle might conclude with a maneuver that, in reality, became the Riker Maneuver. The memo ended, "However the battle is choreographed, this should be a defining sequence for the movie." (Fade In - The Writing of Star Trek: Insurrection)

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