|Battle of the Briar Patch|
|United Federation of Planets||Son'a|
|Commander William Riker||Unknown field commander, Ruafo overall|
|USS Enterprise||Two Son'a battle cruisers|
|Casualties and losses|
|Enterprise damaged||One battle cruiser destroyed, one disabled|
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 Ru'afo, under the consent of Admiral Matthew Dougherty, to intercept the Enterprise. The Enterprise was trying to reach a clear transmission range so they could report the collector's existence.
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, who was temporarily in command of the ship.
Due to the Federation attempt to relocate six hundred settlers from the Ba'ku homeworld, permitting the Son'a to deploy their collector to collect metaphasic radiation, which would render the planet incapable of sustaining life for generations, the Enterprise-E attempted to flee the Briar Patch in order to be within communications range of Starfleet, informing 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 Ahdar Ru'afo's plans, he proposed to Admiral Dougherty that two of the Ahdar's vessels 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's arm was twisted as 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.
As the Son'a vessels intercepted the Enterprise, Commander Riker gave the order to tell Son'a that their communication systems were malfunctioning but their 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 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 maneuver that was dubbed as the Riker Maneuver by Commander La Forge.