The black cloud completely obscured my vision. This was the crossroad between life and death.
If we breathed in the powder, it would choke us to death. If we built a wall around us, we’d still be stuck inside the cloud, unable to move. And we wouldn’t have time react to what came next.
I released my hold on the creature and its fifty-ton body hit the ground like a sack of jelly. It lay flattened, undoubtedly dead from massive internal damage. Except it raised its head again and let out another blast of powder. In seconds, it emptied all the black powder stored in its body.
This is what I imagine happened next. The friction caused by expelling so much powder through its tubular beak heated it up hundreds of degrees. Then, either the monster created a spark itself, or a tiny piece of its beak broke off from the heat and flew into the cloud, effectively turning it into a flamethrower.
Whatever the cause, the entire cloud burst into flames. A so-called dust explosion. Whereas chunks of coal will burn slowly, powder or dust combines easily with oxygen in the air and burns explosively.
The blast was over two hundred meters in diameter. No one could have escaped from it, except maybe Shisei Kaburagi.
The second the black cloud surrounded me, my first thought was not to protect myself, but to save Satoru. Satoru seemed to have the same thought about me. I guess we were lucky we had a chance to practice throwing each other when we were escaping from the fiend.
As Satoru was obscured by the cloud, I called up the image of a catapult, hooked his body into it and flung him up into the sky as hard as I could.
At the same time, I felt a burst of speed so intense I almost passed out. When my vision cleared, the ground was already far, far below me.