Thank you for the positive response to my blog and the postings on piracy, boarding and various other fun things. Boarding tactics and problems generated a lot of comments. Winchell Chung observed that many things on a space vehicle do not react at all well to gunfire. Hence my defense of cutlasses by Marines and others (other people, not people in the Others ... though they use blades too.)
I replaced Citizens in the Imperium soon after this.
Then David McGuire posted the following:
I think it's a wonderful bit of serendipity that pirates careers are detailed in the same book as barbarians. Barbarians, you know, them guys who use swords and bows and arrows!
A bow can make a hole in a space suit. That pretty much is the bottom line for a weapon used in a boarding action. When your suit is leaking air and you're leaking circulatory fluid it doesn't matter if you were shot by an arrow or a 5.56 round. True arrows use feathers to impart spin and increase their accuracy and this will not work in a vacuum but I'm sure the far future can work out some way to impart spin to an arrow (springs, gas cartridges, whatever.) The hard part is finding the barbarians and getting them trained in vacc suit basics. Maybe they can use those skin tight models for short duration work.
Imagine attacking a merchant ship with a bunch of faux Cimmerians in skin suits adorned with feathers beads and bones firing arrows at fleeing merchant crew (cutlasses and swords optional.) Even if you don't kill anyone tackling one merchant crew and winning will give you raider cred for years to come.
Okay Robin Hood and his Merry Sophonts won't last long against Marines or main line military but if you have the Marines knocking on your airlock you're already really, really screwed. There's a very short nonexistent list of successful pirates who regularly won against military vessels.
I think barbarians troops storming a starship's corridors is epic. Rule of Cool says it can work. Case closed.