Piracy means the theft of goods from a vessel underway, by threat of force. It usually requires there be a credible threat. MUTHUR deciding the threat is credible and shutting down can turn it into a boarding action. But, undoubtedly, SOMEONE will override a MUTHUR shutdown.
We also know that USCM vessels are armed, from the tech manual. (Connestoga Class, including the USS Sulaco, mount particle beams, a laser turret, multiple railguns.) The screen used model clearly shows the two railgun turrets ( https://avp.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Sulaco? ... _Burns.JPG
Also, ANY space drive that isn't based upon pure plotnium (or the established on film to exist gravitics) is, itself, a reasonably good weapon. Ion thrusters, even, can produce secondary radiation on a hit.
Whether or not it should be in the corebook, space combat is canonical to the setting. The realities of it, as mentioned in the Aliens Colonial Marine Tech Manual are that it's entirely computerized once engagement happens. The plan is worked out, turned over to MUTHUR, and executed automatically, possibly with crew repairs in between passes.
Not having read Coriolis, I don't know if that's suitable for substitution; if it is, hopefully, the ship stats will be compatible.
I am not and have not argued that there should be no space combat. What I am advocating for is that space combat should be really REALLY REALLY
brutal. Almost everyone dies, the ship needs to go into “dry dock” and let’s hope we have enough life support to limp back to civilisation because our ship looks like Swiss cheese.
The Expanse is probably the closest I can think of thematically, to how I hope the space combat rules in Alien feel. Fast, gritty, brutal and deadly in the extreme... you know, kinda like the Alien the game is named after.
Alien is not Star Wars, it’s not cool kids flying cool ships. It’s crappy people going about their crappy jobs on crappy ships suddenly being used as reproductive host/food by some hostile life form. PCs in Alien are not epic heroes, at best they’re just survivors with lots of trauma and nightmares.
Yes we can all see that there are rail guns on the Sulaco, but the Sulaco is not the Millennium Falcon. If the game mechanics for space combat are at all true to the spirit of the setting, then the first thing you’re going to want to do when someone starts shooting at you in space is run. Space combat is not high fives and fist bumps, it’s sobering cold sweats and dirty underwear.
I simply do not care how you define piracy, semantic arguments make absolutely no difference to the fact that “space piracy” is wholly illogical. If you’re paying for fuel, ammo and repairs you’re not going to board a ship to steal medical supplies and food. Firing one missile would wipe out all of your profits, and probably risk complete destruction of the target ship. Define piracy however you want, the economics would put would be pirates out of business before they even got started.
Space is also so HUGE that wasting fuel chasing someone down for their cargo is impractical. Seriously, stealing cargo from a ship in transit would be an act of blatant stupidity, because they’re easier ways to do it, that would cost WAY less to pull off. You could hack a database, forge some documents and reroute a cargo container. Easier and cheaper, you don’t need an expensive space ship just some computer skills and few greased palms and you’re half way to the bank. For a company like WY, losing few shipping containers is a rounding error they’ll write off at the end of the fiscal year.
Again defining piracy isn’t relevant, it’s not a remotely realistic excuse to start shooting in space. There are many good reasons to get into a space battle, a cargo hold full of rations or medicine isn’t one. People trying to be space pirates would maybe get to take one ship before the marines showed up and made an example of them.
If you really want the Space Pirate trope in your Alien game, then go for it, but don’t delude yourself about it making any sense. I suggest if you want to play Space Pirates then take a look at Coriolis, it’s a great game and the setting was designed for swashbuckling among the stars.
When I think of Alien, the tag line “In space... no one can hear you scream” pretty much sums up the experience I want to have as a player and a GM. Alien is brutal, terrifying and deadly. All of that is couched in layers of mundane hubris that belies the sheer existential dread that’s breathing wetly on your neck.