In the 21st Century human civilization on Earth developed amazing technologies: nuclear fusion power plants, advanced genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, affordable space travel, and advanced nanotechnology, to name a few.
Among their creations were furry “recoms” (short for recombinant DNA) which combined a humanoid form with animal-like traits. They became the workers doing jobs that humans didn't want, and large numbers were used in the rapidly developing space colonies.
Then everything fell apart. War erupted on Earth, dividing East and West. As the conflagration spread and battle escalated, nuclear weapons gave way to bio-weapons, and then nanotech weapons. The complex inter-relations of global industry and economy were reduced to tatters, and soon escaped weapons were devastating even the non-aligned nations of Earth.
As civilization collapsed, and then the whole planet's ecosystem began likewise spiraling out of control, those who were able escaped into space, to Luna, to Mars, to the asteroid colonies. Refugees from Earth unwittingly carried bio-weapon agents with them, infecting the colonies.
Recoms were resistant to most of the bio-weapons. As their human masters died, they found themselves holding their own destiny in their handpaws for the first time. Cut off from Earth's agriculture and industry, their first great hurdle was simple survival. The surviving space colonies, and recoms of all species, pulled together to fight off famine and keep their habitats lighted and supplied with air and water.
Many lean years followed. However, the colonies gradually rebuilt their industry, shortages eased, and they established their own interplanetary trade and economic system. A new civilization began to emerge that was no longer dependent on the devastated planet Earth.
Then came shocking news: a signal received from deep interstellar space. Every effort was made to decipher it, and then came another surprise. The message contained instructions to build a hyperspace jumpgate. This device would allow spaceships to enter hyperspace, there to travel at previously unimagined speed, then return to normal space. It would open the way to star travel.
Construction of the jumpgate took years. When the first exploratory ships went through, it didn't take them long to locate other gates opening back into realspace, some of them leading to habitable worlds. The first worlds to be reached were Oceania and Annyrion.
Annyrion, shockingly, was already inhabited. The reptilian Eisshari maintained a primitive tribal existence, and explorers found evidence that a more advanced civilization, the mysterious Dallens, had visited that world in the past.
A bigger shock came with the discovery of Jalan, or Wildplanet as it came to be widely known. Wildplanet was colonized by a starfaring alien species known as the Kirru, and by another species the Kirru had created. The Kirru had visited Earth thousands of years earlier and taken snow leopards from Asia. These they had uplifted, genetically altering them to give them intelligence, language, upright posture and hands. The Irbis, as they are called, were effectively recoms without any human heritage.
Since then contact has been made with another alien species, the Skiltaire. A couple of newer colonies have also been opened: on the Lopanga continent of Annyrion, and on the moon known as Planet Amazon.
Some recoms have emigrated to Wildplanet. The Kirru and Irbis welcome anyone who comes seeking a more pastoral existence, but they have never formed extensive political or economic ties with the other recom colonies. Wildplanet remains in many ways a world apart.
The colonies on Oceania and Annyrion have grown rapidly, becoming politically independent. Luna, Mars, Inaria, Lopanga and Oceania sometimes form alliances, sometimes rivalries as they vie for trade and influence. At one time the colonies had a unified space navy, but now each maintains its own force to look after its own interests.
Earth remains devastated and quarantined, but a few daring – or reckless – adventurers sometimes run the blockade to land on its surface and try to loot the planet. They seek artifacts of human technology, lost or forbidden since the war.
At the same time, there's the question of when aliens may arrive in force, and whether the colonies will be able to unite against them, should it prove necessary.