The old man was winding to a halt and the reporters began to fidget and jockey to get the first question.

“… Which is why the four longships that will serve as colony arks will be named,” and here he beamed as he saw the reporters caught out mid-fidget. They had not been told they would get the actual names of the arks. “The Qiu, Majira, Zima, and Primavera.”

“Now, I can take a few questions.”

Most of the reporters were caught trying to make sure they had capped the name announcement. A bright young reporter in a fashionable tan moodsuit caught the old man’s eye.

“What can you say about the government on the arks. Will it be a military dictatorship as many have described it?”

Not so bright after all, sighed the old man to himself.

“The longships are in fact ships. They need a crew and that crew needs to be qualified. And it will need to train the next crew. And in cases of ship wide emergency it needs to be able to command operations for the preservation of the ship. So the highest officer on board will be the Captain.

“However, when the Captain is not ruling on a ship matter, he will be restrained by the council of settlements. A small council with one elected representative from each settlement area. They will elect a council head who will act as executive in non-ship matters.

“That council will also appoint judges tasked with reviewing the decisions of the council and the captain and resolving grievances. Too much democracy in an environment this constrained could lead to inadvertent disaster by the untrained. Too much dictatorship and the society will revolt and collapse. We believe we’ve struck a balance.”

“It’s a typical three-part check and balance system with a weak executive then?” Said the reporter without looking up from note-taking. Maybe some brightness in there after all.

“Exactly,” the old man snapped. “Except,” and this made the reporter look up. “Once the ship launches, we can’t control it any more. They can decide to switch their government the moment they’re out of orbit.

“So the real answer about what kind of government they’ll have, genre actions down the line when the arks finally reach their destinations, is, we don’t know!” The old man smiled. He wished he was going with them.