[several months ago]
A thousand points of light flared in his visual cortex as the chemical packet surged through his bloodstream. A rising tide of consciousness flooded into the empty gaps between his thoughts. Mnemonic fog lifted, and previously unknown neural machinery hummed into life. His swim bladder pulsed as his body struggled with reason’s victory over instinct.
His expression sparkled with cognizance as he gazed into the ancient algae-clouded eyes of his awakener. Its packet delivered, the elder sandfish drifted down the line to deliver its gift to the next initiate.
An acolyte ushered him away from the lineup and near the surface. He felt a quick sting as another sandfish, wearing silver ceremonial mouthparts, bit the tip of his pectoral fin.
“You now bear the mark,” the acolyte said to him, “and you must choose a name.”
He looked upwards through the shifting sands. Weatherby’s moons hung above.
“The third moon … the shadow upon it. What is our name for that?” he asked the acolyte.
“Worm-fartulate ’k’tihrick’mang poo-nerd stankflooze,” the acolyte responded.
He looked away for a moment of contemplation.
His eyes shining with purpose, he looked back and said with startling force:
“Then my name shall be Moon Shadow.”