The Ark Class ship formed part of the three-fold survival plan of the wealthy and powerful of the Petroleum Age. The other two legs of the plan were the arcologies, and space habitats.
A shape-shifter of some sort has taken up a post at the War College of an enemy realm, where he secretly picks off only the most promising officer cadets, arranging bizarre accidents that gradually debase the leadership of the hostile army. In the long run, this will improve his nation's chances when the inevitable conflict comes.
As a shape-shifter he can impersonate superiors and peers alike and send the target candidate to the cleverly-prepared site of his (or her?) execution. As long as he is successful, no-one will ever know about the deception--even necromancy will only implicate the one impersonated...