“Sometimes you have to quietly sacrifice a few freedoms to ensure everyone lives happily. Here's hoping these primates never learn the full extent of what we did.”
- - Unknown, record recovered from Draconid outpost in the French Alps
The Arda Wardenship Program (more colloquially known as the Arda Program) is a research and guardianship operation established and maintained by the Draconid Imperium in cooperation with precursors such as the Ashtar and Greys to observe and protect the human population of Earth. Although evidence has traced a Draconid interest in Earth as far back as their early colonisation of the Milky Way Galaxy, the program itself was officially established some time prior to the activation of the Zhulultu Monolith in c. 18,000 BCE as a concord between the Imperium and the Milky Way Precursors against the Chitauri.
Although the Draconid Imperium's activities have been classified information even as human governments established partnership with the spacefaring powers of the First Gigaquadrant, their effect on Earth's development has been profound, with some anthropologists suspecting that the reptilian Draconis may have served as inspiration for stories of demons and dragons and that Dracid may have been a strong influence for ancient languages such as Phonecian, Greek or Latin. Beyond Earth, the Warden Project may have been responsible for a number of Human transplants and several Out-of-Timers
The beginnings of the Arda Warden program can be traced back to early encounters between the Draconid Imperium and the Milky Way precursors. While exploring the Milky Way, the Imperium discovered through its communications with the local precursors that a secret war was being waged between the precursors such as the Ashtar and Greys and the Alpha Draconians. Proving a pivotal asset during this war, the higher echelons of the Draconid government, and organisations such as the Royal Intelligence Agency, were granted the means to circumvent the infamous talents of Draconian means of infiltration and identify their agents and spies.
A key battleground of this secret war was Earth, once the hooemworld of the Draconians, they and their one-time servants the Chitauri had returned from the unknown intent to take it back, despite the emergence of its new occupants. To this end the Imperium approached the Ashtar with an offer; that they would pledge to safeguard the primitive homonid beings that were developing on the Ashtar homeworld, ensuring that just as the Ashtar had done, they would develop naturally, free of any outside influences be they Chitauri, Draconian or alien. To the Draconid Imperium this kind of operation was routine. Already they had encountered and observed hundreds of planets where the inhabitants had yet to discover how to escape the confines of their local atmospheres.
From the beginning however, the observation of Earth was substantial compared to other projects due to the chance of infiltration and influence by the Alpha Draconians. Differing from other projects, monitoring required several regional outposts alongside the more typical setup of an orbital observation post. The project was upscaled again some time in the early third/late second millennium BCE After a Zhulultu Monolith was uncovered in what is now the site of Eridu. The shockwave generated by the beacon's activation converted a third of the peninsula into a dead wasteland and destroying the regional outpost established to monitor the local inhabitants. The devastation saw an increase in activity of Zhulultu artifacts, with later research concluding the planet had been marked by the Tuuros Galaxy precursors for some unknown purpose.
As Humanity settled and began building its first cities, the project's researchers took a keen interest in local great powers, assuming that these would be honeypots for Chitauri activity. Along with these, the project established protocols to ward off and pluck out other alien infiltrators who had taken an interest in the gradually advancing society such as the Goa'uld. Through targeted abductions, psychotherapy and counter-infiltration missions, the Adra Project waged its own secret war on attempts to subvert humanity, but as the project progressed the project's managers began to veer off the course of pure observation and protection. Now and again, directors would draw up experiments for humanity, while ground-level operatives would feed information and observe populations as candidates for study or special interest.
One of the more controversial projects was the Offworld Preservation contingency: Extraction missions targeting population sizes ranging from groups of individuals to entire communities were performed, these people were captured, examined and transplanted offworld, with the official statement being as a means to ensure that humanity as a whole would not become extinct or enslaved should the worst happen. As time went by the sources of the project's samples ranged from remote communities to groups (both civilian and military) accidentally discovering Draconid operations. Attempting to contains these however was not a 100% success rate, and other times the subjects were released back into the population with only a cloudy recollection of what they had seen, giving birth to stories of dragons or inspirations for language. Dracid words that these individuals may have caught sight of began entering the lexicon of local populations as subjects came back repeating the strange words they could vaguely remember.
The Arda Project's extent was scaled back as humanity became increasingly interconnected, by the 2100s, a number of the smaller posts were decommissioned. The project leads took advantage of the increasing lines of communication between individuals in states. As global telecommunications developed, the project diverted its resources to monitoring cyberspace activity. The central station, originally in Earth orbit, had to be moved further out as human society's optical technology improved, the outposts became increasingly reliant on hyperpsace teleportation to transfer staff and materials between the ground outposts and Warden Station.
The atomic war of the 22nd century CE signaled the end of comprehensive observation of humanity. With the species' development of interplanetary and interstellar spaceflight, the responsibility of observing and assessing humanity was transferred to the Royal Intelligence Agency, as was to be expected as the various human nations transitioned from terrestrial confined states into interstellar empires.
Primarily a research and observation project, the Arda project followed a number of protocols in line with the Imperium's other indigenous observation operations. Dozens of bases were set up and operated at three distinct levels. In order to maintain secrecy, these bases were frequently built underground and designed for long term occupation, with facilities that included a geothermal power supply, phasic shielding, ration fabricators, storage bays and on occasion crew barracks.
- Continental Command Bases were central operations. Built as central operations centres for zones that were thousands of kilometres across, they featured facilities like those of central command including large VTOL docks, high-grade examination labs, a small garrison and large hydroponic bays. Staffed by dub-directors they acted as a headquarters for other regions. In terms of scale, they were comparable to small towns, going deep underground they were some of the few facilities designed with high-level quarantine labs in the event of encountering high-rank Chitauri infiltrators, powerful mentalists or victims to Zhulultu artifacts. Continental command bases were the only stations installed with surface-to orbit hyperspace teleportation relays.
- Regional Stations were intended to monitor one or more nations, and served as relays between continental command bases and sites of special interest. Like continental ocmmand, these bases were significant; supporting up to two hundred scientists, sophisticated autopsy and medical facilities and long range communications relays. More significant regional stations - such as those that found themselves monitoring key areas of local superpowers or areas of dense human activity - had maglev trams for both passengers and cargo that ran between them or continental command.
- Special Interest Stations were local-level observation posts. Small compared to their regional and continental counterparts, these stations were frequently built for small staff compliments and close-range observation. Medical bays that were sufficient for local-level Chitauri examination or study of local populations, while record keeping was centred around local key cities.
- A subclass of special interest station was devised after the Monolith activation. Not listed on official records alongside other stations, these black site staions are designed to contain a number of things depending on the task at hand too dangerous to contain at local continental command stations such as Zulultu artifacts, individuals exposed to Zhulultu technology, high-ranking Chitauri and essence manipulators considered dangerous.
The central planetside command, located underneath the French Alps, is the known largest of all observation posts, serving as the planetside nexus of operations. Carved deep underneath, the headquarters functioned similar to a small city, its inhabitants were provided for by locally sourced food, water, geothermal energy and amenities and healthcare directly from Imeprial space. Outlying tunnels were designed as residential areas, with the Alps headquarters being one of the few sites of luxury apartment units for operations directors or visiting VIPs.
“Was it right for us to watch and prune the Ardans when required? Perhaps. But the outcome if they had been left to their own devices would have been severe”
“I do owe a sense of gratitude. Regardless of the matter, little does it excuse for such life to exist.”
- - Lord Zhuleshxi, c. unknown