Disclaimer: don't own Drom people, d'oh.

We Are: A strange metafic

By Joan Milligan

Dedicated with all my admiration and best wishes to Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

Rommie looked around her in slight suspicion, feelings the gears rushing in her head as she theorized what possibly could have made Dylan rush them to the bridge in such a hurry, what could make him look so grave. She unconsciously reached up, running one slender hand through her hair. She changed its previously smooth, sleek look - she was still uncertain why exactly. The new hairdo made her look tougher, sexier. She idly thought it was rather unlike her to want to look either or both.

Studying the rest of the crew as they fretted, waiting for Dylan to deliver whatever dark message he had for them, she noted they have all gone through some sort of strange change lately. Their hairstyles, clothes and even general attitudes seemed different. Most changed was Trance - poor Trance, for her the change was both forced and terrible. The poor, brave girl... she didn't deserve it.

The Ship Made Flesh nervously thought her captain might say something about these changes. Maybe he could explain them. However, from the way he looked around, not really meeting their eyes, sighing quietly to himself, she found herself uncertain of whether she wished to know the reason. Dylan was a hopeless optimist at most times. What could possibly have happened?

The Magog attack? Long behind them. Trance's ordeal? Dealt with. Harper's condition? Who knows... she was faintly worried about him, and held the rogue emotion in check.

Beka tapped her foot impatiently on the metal floor of the newly revised bridge - another change of whose cause none of them was certain. She folded her hands and grunted - she was never good with waiting. Harper's way of containing his tension was an endless, flowing chatter that easily drove both Tyr and Trance mad. Rev stood vigil yet quiet farther away, as always more patient than anyone would believe one of his kind to be.

Finally Dylan cleared his throat, turning their attention to him. They looked at him with bursting curiosity, confused and concerned. The captain's voice was hollow when he spoke, his speech full of long silences and abrupt gaps.

"Uh, as you all... you all must know, we've been through some... changes... lately," he started. "I'm sure most of you didn't think they mattered much. We let them pass and so far they have, uneventfully, but it's been brought to my knowledge... it's... something bigger's going on - much bigger."

"Oh, cut to the chase, Dylan," Beka intervened. "We all know there's been changes. The writers do that sometimes. It's all normal. What's the deal?"

"Please don't tell me I'm being killed off because all the fangirls like His Genetically Superior Majesty here better," Harper intervened, sniping a death glare at the large Nietzschean. Tyr shrugged.

"No, mister Harper, that's not the case," to the surprise of all, Dylan didn't smile at the engineer's smart-ass remark, not this time. All eyes locked on him on sudden fear, even Harper now completely serious. "It's... I... well... you see... the head writer's leaving"

Anguished moments passed before that bombshell of a line sunk in.

"Robert Wolfe? Are you serious??" Beka blurted out. Trance and Rev exchanged wide-eyes glances. A low growl rose in Tyr's throat, he took a step forward.

"He can not! What will become of us?"

"That's... complicated, and it's exactly what I need to talk to you all about," Dylan admitted, again not catching their eyes.

Trance, her skin a pale purple-bluish shade, said: "It's these changes, isn't it? I knew this can't turn out good... and all the fights, and the fan reaction..."

"Maybe it won't be so bad - I rather like how we get to see some action, even if things really start to change..." Beka mused aloud with a faint note of bitterness.

"Easy for you to say, you got Ethlie watching your back," Harper shot angrily as he started pacing the bridge back and forth.

"So says mister `John wrote heaps of character development for me, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt'," she noted with annoyance.

Dylan spread his arms wide to silence his bickering crew. "This is larger than any single episode flick. There are going to be some serious changes. All the fights are just the beginning. We can expect less complex adventures... less connection to the past... and mostly, we're going to change. *Us*."

They froze.

"What does that mean?" Rev asked quietly.

Dylan didn't answer for a few long minutes.

"It means," he said finally, heavily. "That we'll change, or at least the things we say and do will change. I don't know how, or when, or to what degree, but I'm sure, and I can tell you right now, that this won't be a good change. We are, after all, only characters, shadows, our lives aren't really our own. And what we've come to know as our lives, as ourselves, our very identities, aren't ever going to be the same. We'll change, we're *being* changed, forcefully."

They gave him dark, dismal looks, fear clear and present in each eye, and despair, and frustrated confusion, and that despair he could never take. His crew mustn't despair, no change that will make them despair may pass smoothly, may be allowed. He will not allow it.

He stood straighter, looked up, looked at their face, spoke with proud certainty. "But we *won't*. We won't let them do this to us. They may try - they *will* try, long and hard, but we will not give in. We are more than shadows, we were created, given life, given an identity, *our* lives, *our* identities, that can never be taken from us. No matter what we'll be made to say or do, it will never be right, it will never work out, because it won't be *us*. We are what we are, and we know who we are. And all of them out there - children, adults, women, men, one-time viewers and devoted fans, those who see us as shadows, and those who love us as friends - they know who we are. They'll never forget, they'll always be with us in their hearts, as we will be with them. We're more than shadows they can play with to their liking. We live - and we will fight."

A renewed fire burned in them now, and they stood together, united, as he has never seen them not since day one, when he first gathered them on the bridge of his ship and offered them to join him on this great quest. Then, a legend was born, and it will keep living, standing firm against the winds of change threatening to topple it and drive it to the ground. They are more than shadows, they are more than toys. They are more than wind and imagination and thrown lines and forgotten stories.

They *are*.