This was originally posted anonymously to FFA in May 2017 for the prompt "100 words of time travel." As you can see, I like "100 words" threads because they give me an excuse to write relatively brief things without having to flesh out every ensuing canon divergence, but I also tend to go longer than 100 words when time travel is involved.
Archived to Ao3 in 2021 because there was Elfangor discussion going around and I felt like sharing my take.
Though Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul very much hoped he was far more familiar with the Ellimist's sudden interruptions of his routine than the vast, vast majority of the galaxy, there was no way to prepare for the unseen voice that sounded through his chambers. ‹The battle that comes is not yours to fight.›
‹But I have to!› he protested. ‹None of the fleet knows Earth like I do.›
‹Even so. Your sympathies will make you a liability.›
‹Didn't you tell me that both my peoples need me? Why did you take me away from my life on Earth, if not to defend it now?› He had not spoken of Earth in many years, but surely the presence at hand already knew.
Yet it seemed taken aback. ‹And you will fight for both of them again. Just not today.›
‹You jerk us around like puppets. Where are you dragging me this time?›
‹Nowhere. That-power is not mine. I ask only that you hide yourself.›
‹It is your free choice. You have a hoober bug morph, do you not? Morph in and out of that, if you must. All I require is that you stay on the homeworld, away from the fleet.›
‹And when they notice I have defected?›
‹Your comrades will never know. When they return in triumph, you can join them as if you were in command all along.›
‹I thought you could not know the future.›
‹That of the galaxy? No. Of this skirmish? Yes.›
‹You dare to call the fight for Earth a skirmish! For the fate of billions of unknowing humans!›
‹Without your presence, mighty prince,› the voice mocked, ‹how significant can it be?›
‹And my absence will help the fleet somehow?›
‹You still dare to think you know the entire scope of war, after all you have seen and not comprehended? For every decision there are a thousand, thousand turning points, and advantages and counterbalances the galaxy has not yet taken into account.›
‹Fine,› Elfangor sulked. ‹I suppose to you we are all hoobers anyway.›
While Captain Nerefir was in command of the Earth mission, even War-Princes listened when Elfangor spoke. The mysterious hero carefully expounded the scantily-known details about the Level Six civilization. They appeared to be a high-value target for Yeerk infestation, with plentiful host bodies and little capacity to resist. Unlike the Leerans, whose psychic capabilities made them easily cognizant of impostors among them, humans could be turned easily with little awareness before it was too late. Yet so far, Andalites had not seen human-Controllers among Yeerk military forces elsewhere in the galaxy. This could have several explanations; was the species weak in battle and unfit to leave their home system? Had the Yeerks failed to commit an adequate supply of defense resources yet? Or were they focusing on stealth infiltration first, and only later bolstering their reserves?
Either way he spun it, Elfangor's argument was clear; reinforcements would be on the way soon if they weren't already, and the Andalites were stretched too thin trying to defend Leera. The time for cutting off the Earth invasion was sooner rather than later, with as large and dispersed a force as they could spare.
It was not the hardened voice of the famed aristh who had had nothing to lose, but war changed everyone, Nerefir supposed, and his arguments were sound. The GalaxyTree went into battle supported not only by a fleet of its own fighters, but a recruited pool of fighters from the venerable FlameWind.
While Elfangor shot down Bug Fighter after Bug Fighter, it was up to another daring fighter pilot to take down the Blade Ship that emerged unexpectedly from the Pool Ship's cover. After many dozens of shots had weakened and finally destroyed the shield system, Mertil-Iscar-Elmand spun at a daring angle and fired into the craft's unprotected bridge.
‹Some of that debris will fall to the planet,› Mertil pointed out, ‹and most of the humans there are unfamiliar with extraplanetary intelligence. Should we dispatch morph-capable individuals to cover our tracks?›
Elfangor said nothing, deferring to the captain. After deliberation, Nerefir said, ‹Most of the surface is inaccessible water, and we have already expended plenty of the FlameWind's time on this operation. We return home.›
The Electorate rejoiced in the commanding victory, and the warriors were by and large jubilant as well. Those who had participated, anyway. Aristh Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill was appropriately pleased in public, but behind closed doors, griped where he could. ‹I'm never going to get ahead!›
‹Is this what war is all about?› Elfangor teased him. ‹Titles and ranks?›
‹No,› said Aximili, eyes downcast. ‹There are also slugs to be burnt!› He glanced over at Elfangor with his stalk eyes, as if expecting him to pick up on some private joke.
Curse the Ellimist and Nerefir both; no doubt half the crew of the FlameWind had memories of him that he could not verify, but it was especially troublesome when it was his younger brother who could call him on it. Fighting back the urge to make a joke about the population controls, Elfangor instead settled for a change of subject. ‹You had better be glad War-Prince Nerefir didn't dispatch you to clean-up duty on Earth.› Thank Gafinilan-Estrif-Valand for having mentioned that to him in such a way that he had to act knowingly. ‹I heard they had to walk around on just two legs! Imagine the balance problems!›
It shouldn't have been hard for someone of Elfangor's rank to call up the historic logs of the StarSword. The difficult part was to do it and then wipe the data so that no one searching through the computer access logs later would know that it had happened. He almost considered requisitioning a fighter, too, and then deleting that, but then realized he didn't need to. Not because the Andalite military needed it more than he did. After what he'd done for them, they could stand the loss of a single ship. It was because he didn't really need one, to get where he was going.
He emerged into real space in the asteroid field near the Graysha Nebula, where the rocks devoured ships-or Time Matrices, which emitted one vast surge of energy as it deposited him and then faded.
Elfangor forced himself to break contact, drifting in the void; if he touched it, any stray thought could redirect him elsewhere, and that would defeat the entire purpose. He was only restoring some sort of balance, he told himself, returning the Time Matrix to where it had nearly been abandoned in a black hole. Having betrayed both his promise of not abetting the Andalites with technology, and perhaps the hope that had propelled him beyond despair the first time he'd come there, what remained?
Only the echo of who he nearly was, the other prince who had not seen the war on Earth, and the trust that perhaps he could get it right.