Matthew Ryan was the first officer of the Earth cargo ship Fortunate. His ship was attacked by Nausicaan pirates and the crew fought them off, although not before Captain Keene was injured, leaving Ryan in command. When Enterprise arrived on the scene, Ryan initially claimed they didn't need help but eventually agreed to medical assistance and help with repairs. His true reason for not wanting Starfleet involved was that he and his crew had captured a Nausicaan and were torturing him for information.
Mayweather gave Ryan a tour of Enterprise and suggested there was a place for him in Starfleet but Ryan considered him a traitor for abandoning the cargo service for Starfleet. Archer found out about the Nausicaan prisoner and demanded Ryan hand him over, threatening to have all the components Enterprise had supplied to the Fortunate removed otherwise. Ryan pretended to agree but instead trapped Archer, Reed and Phlox inside a module which he then ejected before fleeing from Enterprise.
The Nausicaan prisoner gave Ryan the shield modulations he wanted and Ryan decided to strike back at the Nausicaans. However, when they engaged the Nausicaans, they found their prisoner had lied and they had no advantage. The Nausicaans began boarding the Fortunate as Enterprise arrived on the scene. However, Archer was reluctant to join in the fight and tried to convince Ryan to stand down. Mayweather eventually convinced Ryan that if he continued the fight, he was just going to get his crew killed. Ryan released his Nausicaan prisoner and the other Nausicaans departed peacefully.
When Keene recovered, he was angry that Ryan had risked the ship and crew for revenge. He demoted him to able crewman and declared he would spend the rest of the trip purging hydraulic pumps. He declined Archer's offer to take Ryan back to Earth however, saying it would leave him short-handed.