The feeling of absolute confidence didn't falter; not an ounce as I continued to stare Chad in the eyes.
The most important aspect of this look, is that it cannot reveal ferocity. It has to be stern and uncompromising, yet calm and passive. It's a game and you are showing how serious you are, but not revealing your full potential.
You let them know that they are most definitely, indisputably weaker than you are, but you keep them guessing, jumping between the possibility that you will hurt them a little, to the concept that you will bury them where they stand.
Chad was the average challenger. He had assumed from my British accent that I was some kind of ponce. He had relished my fear and confusion about The Institute and taken me for a sap, a coward, a child even.
He had heard no protest from me and very little retaliation to his snide remarks – this was his 'comprehensive' examination. But this kind of person; they’re the weakest of all. Easily overcome if you can see right through the bravado that they use as shield to conceal their immense insecurity.
Chad continued to try and stare this out. I assumed Eden was enjoying this as she did not interrupt. From the side of my eye, I could see her sipping her drink. But you don’t want to think of that. Not now. Not midway. No distraction. Pure focus.
“Look I was just kidding,” said Chad extending his hand, then moving it to pat my shoulder when I didn’t respond. The pat on the shoulder? A show for Eden to make it seem like he was still in power. Still the man - he wasn’t. He knew it. I knew it. Eden possibly knew it. But this single minute would change the tone for the rest of our journey. And hopefully keep him in his place.