"Good afternoon, Gentleman. I'm very happy to see that so many of you made it to our meeting. It is a very good thing for everyone that all of you showed up." The tall man tapped his papers on the desk to get them in order. His expensive tailored suit flattened out smooth as he stood up and looked out along the conference table. "I'm sure you all know why you are here. You're here because there is something about your current self image that comes off as distasteful to the general public. Whether it be your physical appearance, your odd idiosyncrasies, or your merciless nature, there is just something about you that rubs people the wrong way. What we're going to do here today is examine what specific traits portray a negative image and start taking steps towards a more personable and relatable public face."
The participants around the room looked at each other, some with apprehension but most with a gleam of excitement in their eyes.
The man's mustache didn't move as he smiled. "What do you say we start by going around the room? I'll introduce you to the group and then name a few things that make you less attractive to normal people. You don't have to say anything unless you want to." His smile stayed locked in place as he looked down at his clip board.
"We'll start with you, Magmamemnon." The fiery beast sat up in his burning chair as black smoke coiled from his glowing eyes. "Initially we found that people seemed to be turned off by your general presence. After a little bit of market research and some focus groups we found that this is because – hang on – ok yes, because you instantly incinerate everyone you meet on sight."
"Yes," said the quiet, reserved lava god. "The smell of their smoldering flesh is like heaven to my people."
"I'm glad you said that Magma," the man said, "because we find that the second main reason people avoid you and your kind is because you actually like instantly burning them to death."
Magmamemnon sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers. They hissed as they touched each other. His elegant gold rimmed glasses burst into steam as his three piece suit blazed out of control. "Hmm. I don't know what to say. I had no idea."
The tall man smiled. "That's why we are here Mr. Memnon. I think if we played down the fire a little, maybe by sparing the lives of a few people during your clan's raids, we could get a few more percentage points in those approval ratings."
The bright beast leaned forward slightly, resting his elbows on his thighs. When he spoke the heat of a thousand dead glowed from behind his teeth. "I'm afraid that your initial strategy isn't going to go over well with our core work force."
The man raised his hand. "That's ok, Magma. This is just an initial run to let you know what the numbers are. Ok, next we have Ubersoldat. Uber, am I correct in my findings that you are a 60 year old failed Nazi experiment of merging the flesh of man with the latest in 1940's robotics?"
"Well," the PR guy said as he made a check on his clipboard. "That's really about all there is to say about you isn't there?"
Ubersoldat slumped back in his chair with a frown.
"Ok, next on our list are Central American Drug Lord Guerilla "…"
""… Herald. And his friend, Eighties Cuban Gang Member "…"
""… Julio. Thank you two for coming, uh, together."
Julio leaned over to Herald's ear. "You listed me as your 'friend'?"
Herald turned a little to look into Julio's eyes. "I didn't know what kind of meeting this was going to be. Who knows the kind of people show up to these things?"
"It's never going to work with us if you keep being afraid of your father."
Herald turned abruptly sticking his finger in Julio's face. "You leave my father out of this you little bitch!"
Julio's mouth dropped in shock. "I can't believe you just said that to me. After all we've been through. After Nicaragua you still think of me as just your slut!"
The man tapped his papers on the table top again. "Riiight. Let me just make some notes here on your files. Your situation might be a little more difficult to explain to the public than I had originally envisioned."
There was a cackling laugh, like sandpaper on broken glass, coming from the opposite end of the table. "Well, I guess we can move on to you, Sarfax," said the man. The laughter was coming from the other end of the table where a tiny figure with an oversized head and eyes sat in his chair. He wore only his Ceremonious Armor of Meetings and a blaster strapped to his hip. "Sarfax, you've been the face of alien antagonism since such a thing existed. You have literally devoted yourself to the destruction of the very race you are now trying to ingratiate yourself with. I don't think we can really find a way to lighten your image before first evaluating every last one of your faults."
"Sarfax has not faults."
The man flipped open a manila folder and started to read through its contents. "That might be true on your planet, but down here on Earth you are public enemy number one. Ok, let's start with the 'devour the human flesh' thing. 'Prepare to be food for the Believers!' You broadcast this, in English, to the ships and bunkers you are about to attack to instill fear into your enemies. On top of that you and your crew actually follow through with the threat. You don't discriminate between male or female, young or old. The only humans spared in your raids are the youngest of the children. Those, we recently discover, you and your kind actually race "…"
The man read his confidential file down a little further. ""… against the young of different planets "…" asked the man.
"Oh, most certainly yes."
The specialist took a deep breath before continuing. ""… for gambling purposes? I can't even begin to think of a way to put a positive spin on that."
Sarfax looked at the man quizzically. "You could mention how, your young often do quite well in the races. One single child alone in one night accumulated enough winnings for Sarfax to purchase another wife."
"Sarfax," the man said. "There really isn't a whole lot to work with here. We might have to assess you separately. Let's just move on for now. Next we have Arthur, The Brown Ninja. Arthur I see that you have no formal "…"
"We no longer even have anuses!" said Sarfax.
"Excuse me?" the man asked.
Sarfax continued. "None. We have evolved beyond the need for them."
"Well that's a real shame," Julio said as he nudged Herald's arm.
"What in God's name does that have to do with anything?" the man asked again.
"You asked for a positive attribute." Sarfax said sitting back in his seat. "What can be more positive than not having a disgusting food portal, right in your ass?"
Julio leaned over the table a little bit. "You don't know a whole lot about asses do you?"
The man stood up flattening his jacket with his palms. "If you will excuse me gentlemen, I have to make a phone call. Please don't leave." He bent down and touched the table, then he strolled briskly out of the door closing it behind him.
Ubersoldat shifted in his chair to face the others. " Dieser Mann ist sehr unhöflich."
"No sh*t," said Julio.
"Yes," Sarfax said. "None. No anus you see."
Magmamemnon turned to look at Sarfax's twisted face. "Sarfax, I'm not really sure how it happened but I think you might be a little retentive. Perhaps you aren't getting enough variety in your day to day life. We, the mighty people of the fire plains, find that "…"
"I'm sorry, y'all. Is this the Public Relations Seminar?" In through the door walked a fit young man with a bulky jacket. On it was a red bird and a number.
Magmamemnon turned slightly to look at him out of the corner of his eye. "Yes, my dear boy, this is "… oh my word! You're Michael Vick. You play for the Atlanta Falcons."
"That's me baby. My coach says I got to come to one of these things to keep me off the bench, you know? So anyway I got an email about this one and decided to show." Michael pointed at the empty chair the man was sitting in earlier. "Where's the main dude?"
"Probably in one of those tiny rooms down the hall, using his anus!" Sarfax blurted.
Mike chuckled a little as he sat down. "Yeah, I heard that, Mini-Me."
"Hey," Ubersoldat was standing by the window pointing down to the street. "Betritt der Fachmann sein Automobil?" The group crowded around the window to look out. The tall man was just closing the door to his sedan. They could see the headlights flicker on as he pulled out into traffic.
Mike turned around and walked over to the table, scanning its surface for the source of the noise.
"Man," he said. "I don't even see a damn phone in this room. Where in the hell is that coming from?"
The specialist with the perfect mustache felt the thump of the second explosion two blocks away as he drove past screaming police cars. He pulled a phone from the glove compartment and pushed the first speed dial button.
"Command?" He said as he put the receiver to his ear. "This is Jones."