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"The ones that grew up out here feel they have some special claim, that this particular stretch of space is theirs."

Matthew Ryan was a member of the Earth Cargo Service in the 22nd century.

Ryan was born and lived on the freighter ECS North Star, along with his parents. Following a catastrophic disaster, which resulted in the loss of nearly the entire crew, including Ryan's parents, Ryan transferred to his new home aboard the ECS Fortunate. By 2151, he began serving as the first officer aboard the Fortunate under Captain Jackson Keene.

When the Fortunate was attacked by a Nausicaan raider that year, Keene was injured and Ryan took command. He led the ship on a mission of revenge. When Enterprise NX-01 answered a distress call from the Fortunate, Ryan said it was a mistake, that they had been attacked by pirates, but were not in need of any help; he wished to hide the fact that he had a captive Nausicaan, whom he was torturing to obtain information about the weapon systems of the Nausicaan ship. Ryan was forced to cooperate with Enterprise's commanding officer, Jonathan Archer, as Ryan's own captain was in need of medical attention.

Ryan himself was given a tour of Enterprise by Travis Mayweather. He disliked Mayweather for having left his parents' cargo ship to join Starfleet.

When Archer discovered that he had a prisoner, Ryan trapped him in a compartment and disconnected the freighter from Enterprise. He then fired on Enterprise and escaped from the vessel, whose crew subsequently managed to rescue the crewmembers trapped in the compartment. Ryan led his ship into a firefight with three Nausicaan raiders, and was on the verge of being destroyed until Enterprise showed up.

In a deal brokered by Archer, Ryan gave up his hostage, and the Nausicaan ships retreated. Ryan was stripped of his rank by Captain Keene, and was reduced to able crewman. (ENT: "Fortunate Son")

Ryan was played by Lawrence Monoson.
Ryan was scripted to be "in his late-twenties." In the first draft of the "Fortunate Son" script, he was named "Ryan Cross", though this was changed to "Matthew Ryan" by the time the final draft of the script was submitted. In an ultimately unused line of dialogue from that early draft, Ryan pointed out that gravity on Enterprise seemed "a little heavy", to which Mayweather replied it was Earth standard. The script's stage directions then went on to state that, although Ryan nodded in response, he proceeded to "subtly" but noticeably test out the gravity while walking through a corridor with Mayweather. In a later line of dialogue which was likewise ultimately discarded, Ryan described Enterprise, to Captain Archer, as "a very impressive ship."

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