The 39th century saw the continuing destruction of biological civilizations. Over thirty interstellar empires fell to cybernetic invasion or submitted to cyborg implementation and enslavement. With the terrible losses in ships and crew suffered by the Grand Alliance in the great carrier battles in the 3870′s, the initiative passed to the cybers, who had sustained even greater losses than the Grand Alliance. Cybernetic ships, crews, pilots and troopers could be replaced far more quickly than their biological counterparts. Biological troops had to be recruited, equipped and trained; a lengthy process under the best of conditions. Cyber replacements could be produced from harvested victims in weeks while the new fully mechanoid cybers could be built and programmed in days.
The 40th century saw the destruction of the great Rutak Empire as well as the loss of human empires such as the Distan Colonies and the Union of Planets. The bloodthirsty Q’Kwagat spider empire and the brutal Kopitak were also extinguished by the cybernetic wave.
As the cybernetic campaigns gathered momentum, the remaining civilizations began to seek out those factions in control of ancient foldgates, hoping to flee to the other galaxies of the local galactic cluster. Empires that had denied knowledge of foldgates now treated secretly with other biological factions to arrange for transit of fleets filled with refugees. The main direction of refugee flight was the nearby Deltar galaxy, with the Celsus galaxy receiving fewer refugees by half and the other galaxies of the cluster gaining a relatively small number of fleeing biologicals.
The Cybernetics were aware of the ancient foldgates. Charon Empire scout squadrons were actively searching for active foldgates as early as 3600. KoR and NeoPhantatwain cyborgs had made two attempts to conquer known Phantatwain foldgates and were partially successful at the Quidek Starsystem when a NeoPhantatwain squadron managed to jump through the gate to the Deltar Galaxy within hours of the destruction of the Quidek system by Nova Inducer injection. The greatest foldgate disaster was the loss, in 4050, of the Stelltron Hueron Galactic Trade Hub in the Orion Sea, an unclaimed region between the Terran and Rutak Empires. The capture of Hueron meant that trillions of Terran refugees were cut off as Terran Empire defenses crumbled under the final cyber offensive against the humans. Many of the refugees turned toward the Great Desert Rift for sanctuary but much of the region was already in cyber hands.
Biologicals in the Great Desert Rift inhabited isolated worlds in backwater starsystems hoping that the cybers would pass them by. They struggled to maintain and expand their holdings within the Rift but always in fear of discovery by a random cyber probe or scout ship. The Rift was named far and wide as the only real place of sanctuary in the Estra galaxy. Stellar clouds and unusual radiation from nebula within the Rift gave most scanners fits and created an opportunity to hide among the drifting clouds of gas and dust. Refugee biologicals from all over the galaxy came seeking sanctuary.