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The Kilt Effect

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“Wyatt, you really shouldn’t have shot that guy. We have no idea what effect it will have on the timeline.” Lucy shouted, as she jumped over a rock, running back to the lifeboat. The guys had no idea how easy they had it in those kilts. She was trying to run in what felt like 15 different layers of dresses and petticoats and undergarments, none of which were built for speed.

“What was I supposed to do, Lucy? He had a sword at Rufus’s throat!” Wyatt barked as he grabbed her elbow to keep her from falling as she navigated the rough terrain.

“Thanks.” She knew he was frustrated with the limitations she tried to place on their interactions with historical figures in the timeline, but someone had to do it. While they hadn’t had any major timeline changes since their first trip that had erased her sister and gave her a fiancé, the little changes they were making were going to start adding up and up and up - until they reached a critical mass. Lucy was worried there would come a time when they didn’t recognize the world anymore when they got home. She had to worry about that – it was her job.

“If I may interject here, I can’t say that I object to the fact that Wyatt shot the guy who was trying to kill me,” Rufus huffed, a bit out of breath. “I’m guessing there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me in Scotland in 1745. I would say he was more confused than scared, but since his first instinct was to try and slice my head off with a sword, I’m guessing he didn’t think I was a friendly. Besides, we don’t know if he died, and really, he was one random Jacobite. It’s not like we shot Bonnie Prince Charlie.” As always, Rufus was trying to bridge the gap between her and Wyatt on disputes about historical issues, and he wasn’t wrong, but what if it had been a very important Jacobite? Wyatt tended to think before he leapt, especially when their safety was at issue. And while she appreciated that, she was also worried.

“I’m still not sure why Flynn even came to Scotland in 1745. We know Rittenhouse was founded in the late 1700s in America, so this time period can’t have much to do with Rittenhouse. I would suspect Flynn was trying to trap us in history again, except he didn’t.” They reached the lifeboat and began preparing for departure as she spoke. "And we didn’t even see him the entire time we were here."

It really was perplexing that Flynn had traveled back to 1745 to a minor battle during Jacobite Revolution. At least when he’d lured them to French and Indian War they quickly discovered his plot to strand them there. This read like a distraction, but she couldn’t figure out what type of distraction. She could tell it was also bugging Wyatt.

“Flynn always has a plan and he always seems to be one step ahead of us. Let’s get back to our time, debrief, and get some rest. I, for one, will be happy to get out of this kilt, and if I never see another group of people wearing kilts again, that would be fine with me.” Wyatt sounded a little grumpy and put out, even for Wyatt.

While she and Wyatt were talking, Rufus spun up the engines and started the sequence that would take them back to 2017. Lucy always hated this part. Rufus was a good pilot and she trusted him, but there was still something so disconcerting about traveling through time. Her worry over any potential changes in the timeline was always mixed with a bit of hope. She hoped that maybe killing that one Jacobite was the thing that would bring Amy back, but knew it do something even worse, which wouldn't be good. She didn’t want to trade Amy for her mother, but sometimes she missed Amy so much it hurt. And every time she came back and Amy was still gone, there was always disappointment. She tried not to let herself think about it too much as they were traveling. She didn’t want it to affect the mission or distract her from her purpose. If she were distracted, then she might let a bigger mistake happen and time would change in a way that didn’t affect only her.

::whoosh:: Her whole body jolted as the lifeboat reemerged in 2017. She checked herself – 10 fingers, 10 toes, two arms, two legs, one head. She unbuckled her seat while Rufus shut the lifeboat down.

“Alright, kids, let’s see what 2017 looks like today.” Wyatt said, popping out of his seat and Rufus opened the lifeboat door. “Oh, good lord.” Wyatt said with a grimace as he got his first glance at the 2017 team. “So, Lucy, you know that thing you said about shooting how shooting that one guy might change something? You may not have been so wrong about that.”

“What? Oh god. What did we do?” Lucy was still in her seat and couldn’t see outside the lifeboat yet, so she had no idea what to expect, but from Wyatt’s expression she could tell it wasn’t good.

“Everyone. Is. Wearing. Kilts.” Rufus said, with a stupefied expression on his face.

“What do you mean everyone is wearing kilts?” Lucy was confused. “Do you mean that Jiya and Agent Christopher are wearing kilts, or just the men?” Lucy jumped out of her seat and stood next to Wyatt, and no, they were not kidding. Literally everyone in the control room – man or woman - was wearing a kilt. Most were variations on the classic Scottish plaid, but Jiya’s kilt appeared to have some sort of space show design on the plaid – Lucy couldn’t tell if it was Star Wars or Star Trek, but she was sure Rufus would know. Agent Christopher was wearing what appeared to be a Government issue agent black plaid kilt, for which Lucy hoped there were shorts or something underneath it.

“Do you think she is wearing underwear?” Wyatt whispered to Lucy, clearly having the same thought.

“Wyatt. Stop.” Lucy gave him a nudge as she spoke because even though she was thinking the exact same thing, she had to act like she wasn’t. It’s what they did.

“Alright you two, let’s go sort out exactly how Wyatt shooting one random Scottish dude in 1745 led to kilts apparently being mandatory gear. How does that happen? I mean, seriously, how does that even happen? Plus, what does it look like when the wind blows when the lifeboat takes off and lands? Oh god. Are they wearing underwear?” Rufus was rambling, clearly unnerved by the turn of events.

Before Lucy had time to respond, Agent Christopher started walking toward the lifeboat. “Welcome back to 2017. I would ask how the mission with Flynn went, but from the looks on your faces, I think the more pressing question is what happened to the timeline. Something tells me that it’s pretty significant and we won’t have to go hunting through Kiltapedia to figure it out.”

Lucy did a double take at Agent Christopher's words and turned toward Rufus. “Did she just say kiltapedia ---?”

“Did she mean Wikipedia?” Rufus and Lucy spoke at the same time when that bombshell was dropped.

“Kiltapedia, Agent Christopher?” Lucy smiled as she tried to take in this new apparent kilt-run world.

“Yes, Ms. Preston. You know, the massive crowd-sourced research portal that the world relies on for information? Did that not exist before you left?” Agent Christopher seemed downright baffled by Lucy’s question.

“Uh. We had something similar but it was called ‘Wikipedia’.” Lucy responded, not knowing exactly where this was all going.

“Huh. Wikipedia. That doesn’t make any sense. Why would you 'wiki' something? Anyway, so you didn’t have Kiltapedia. That doesn’t explain the looks on your faces, given you just learned that fact.” Agent Christopher seemed truly curious as to where this was all going.

“Yes, well. There is the fact that you are all wearing kilts. It’s a very different fashion statement then when we left.” Wyatt took the lead on answering this time. As they talked, they walked away from the lifeboat and toward the conference room with Agent Christopher. Jiya and Conner followed.

“We didn’t all wear kilts? Huh.” Jiya smiled brightly and looked thoughtful as she spoke, as if she couldn’t imagine a world without kilts.

“No. When we left, you were wearing jeans and a t-shirt, Agent Christopher had on a black suit, and Conner was wearing jeans and a sweater. Everyone else was wearing, well, normal clothing. The only people that ever wore kilts in America were usually people trying to pretend to be Scottish at Highland Games or at a wedding. It certainly wasn’t everyday apparel.” Rufus’s tone was one of confusion, as if he couldn't figure out how a change this random could have happened. And neither could Lucy. Lucy stayed close to Wyatt and Rufus as they headed toward the conference room. If Kiltapedia was a thing and everyone wore kilts, then what else had changed? Better to stay together.

Conner seemed to be thinking hard about what Rufus had just told him and he thought for a few moments before he spoke. “What do you think you changed in time to make us all wear kilts?”

Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus all exchanged furtive glances, trying to figure out who should be the one to say that Wyatt had shot and probably killed some random Scottish guy and that was the reason. They had killed before and they didn’t think anyone would blame them, but killing this one man landed them in a kilt-obsessed world and that was a big change.

“Well, uh, when we got there, we couldn’t find Flynn so we decided to do recon. After about a two-hour hike, we stumbled into to a group of Highlanders who didn’t really know what to think of me, so their first reaction was the good old sword to the throat while shouting in Gaelic. Wyatt and Lucy had been a little behind me. When Wyatt saw what was going on, he shot the guy with the sword. Since that seemed to confuse and piss off the rest of them, we all hightailed it back to the lifeboat. I have a feeling there will be something in history about the lifeboat taking off from rural Scotland in 1745. When we got back to the lifeboat, we looked for signs of the Mothership, but it was off the radar so we left. I have no idea what Flynn’s plan was, but he didn’t stick around long. Maybe he caused the kilt change?” Rufus may have rambled a bit in his explanation, but it was complete.

“How about we start looking on the internet and Kiltapedia . . .” Lucy paused as she spoke because Conner, Jiya, and Agent Christopher were looking at her like she was speaking Greek. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“What is the internet?” Jiya said, seemingly intrigued.

“Say what now? This reality doesn’t have the internet?” Now it was Wyatt’s turn to be perplexed.

“No. I have no idea what that is. Is it the same thing as Kiltnet?” Conner spoke this time.

“If Kiltnet is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols, then yes, they are the same thing.” Rufus said. As he spoke, Lucy could tell he was getting more and more worried about what the hell had happened to the timeline.

Conner responded, “Yes, that sounds exactly like Kiltnet.”

“Okay then, I think Lucy, Rufus, and I need to spend some time on Kiltnet and Kiltapedia sorting out this mad, mad world. How about you guys give us a few to talk and search?” Wyatt pulled Lucy and Rufus toward the door as he spoke, and Lucy was grateful for it. This was just a little bit too surreal for her to handle. It had to have been Flynn who did this – shooting one random Scotsman should not have changed the internet and Wikipedia.

Just as they were about to get to the door, Conner, Jiya, and Agent Christopher all burst out laughing.

“Kiltnet was an amazing touch. I thought we were going to lose them when you mentioned kiltapedia. But oh my god. Their faces.” Conner was laughing so hard he was doubled over and crying.

“Oh, the looks on your faces when you saw us all wearing kilts. It was priceless.” Agent Christopher said, with the biggest smile Lucy had ever seen her wear. “This was all Jiya’s idea. After you left for Scotland, Jiya suggested that we all go put on kilts to see your reactions when you got back. I was a bit skeptical but wow, was it worth it.”

Lucy herself was laughing herself at this point, and so were Rufus and Wyatt. “Where in the world did you find this many kilts on such short notice? And Jiya – yours seems to be custom?”

“This is my Doctor Who cosplay kilt. It’s Tardis blue and has a Tardis on it. I ran home and got it. For the rest, there is a large Scottish population in the area so there is a Scottish store. We sent one of the guys out to get kilts for everyone who works in the control room. It was actually pretty easy. And oh man, so worth it to see the looks on your faces. Kiltapedia . . .” Jiya had to stop talking because she was laughing so hard.

“Alright folks. While this has been amusing, it seems that we don’t know why Mr. Flynn went to Scotland in 1745. I think we need to have the team start combing through history – on the internet and Wikipedia – to see if anything has changed so we can try and sort out his end game.” Agent Christopher smirked as she spoke and put special emphasis on words internet and Wikipedia.

“Sounds good, boss.” Wyatt spoke for the group this time as they all headed toward the closet and changing area to get back in their street clothing before they tried to figure out what happened this time. Lucy appreciated the gesture on the part of everyone to add some levity to what had otherwise been a very serious and crazy run of events.

“Still want to never see a kilt again?” Lucy smiled at Wyatt as she spoke.

“Even more so now. At least I can stop wondering if they were wearing underwear, and don’t give me that look, I know you two were thinking it!” Wyatt gave them both big grins as he grabbed his street clothing to change. Lucy grabbed hers as well. She still wanted her sister back and to know Flynn’s ultimate plan and endgame, but she couldn't have asked for better companions to go on this crazy wild ride with her.