Budapest, January 1, 1936, midnight
His Serene Highness The Regent Of The Kingdom Of Hungary, Admiral Miklós Horthy is drawn back from his wine-assisted drowsiness by a swelling of cheers.
"Happy New Year!" exclaims Gömbös Gyula, Prime Minister of Hungary.
Jack Straw, the embodiment of the past year's misfortunes and regrets, is set aflame as the room begins to sing a slightly-drunken rendition of the Hungarian national anthem. The smoke fills the room, and Horthy finds himself nodding off...
"... A múltat s jövendőt!"
Horthy jolts back into consciousness. The room's occupants, having just completed the anthem, are busy clinking glasses and wishing each other good new years. The Admiral stands up and stomps the floor once, twice. Two dozen bureaucrats and nobles turn to him, silenced.
"My friends," he says, in his reserved yet commanding soprano, and also in Hungarian, "I have had a dream. Too long has Hungary been the boring second cousin of modern Europe, dismissed as impotent and vaguely ill-tempered. Too long have we spent year after year content with a fraction of the glory we held not even thirty years ago. We made some poor choices back then, without a doubt; chief among them, we trusted Germany. But a day of reckoning is approaching. I have seen it. And if we are to turn this worldwide conflagration into a profitable venture for the Magyar people, we will need to be prepared."
The advisors and ministers are shocked. It has been years since the Regent has proposed anything other than a subtle, measured approach to world politics. But nobody can question his loyalty, competence, and sobriety. Well, maybe his sobriety.
Horthy continues. "So I'm making some changes around here. First things first; who's in charge of the Army these days?"
The crowd exchanges glances; the Regent has little in the way of actual power, and whatever he thinks he's going to do is probably not legal. But his little speech was right. Hungarians were tired of the same old second-rate European backwater lifestyle. And if anyone could do something about it, it was Horthy, the head of a kingdom with no king, an Admiral with neither a navy nor a coastline. So their glances settle on on the Army Minister, who raises his hand slightly. Horthy approaches him.
"What's your name, son?"
"Er... I am István Shvoy, sir," he replies.
"Good! I'll call you Bubbles. Now tell me, Bubbles, What do you bring to the table?"
"I... Well, I'm Chief of the Army, and uh..."
"Bubbles. Come on. I need some reason to keep you around. In the New Hungary, there is no room for deadweight. What have you done that other people cannot claim?"
Shvoy stands up straight. "Sir, I have kept our Army up-to-date on the latest in artillery tactics! The men, they do not lose their artillery-using effectiveness quite so quickly in the absence of any actual artillery combat!"
Horthy raises an eyebrow. "Uh. Okay. Let me ask you something. How many brigades of artillery do we have, Bubbles?"
"Er," he replies, glancing nervously around the room. "None, sir."
"Yeah, that's what I thought. Hey, who does production oversight around here?" calls out Horthy. He is pointed towards Tihamér Fabinyi, Armament Minister.
"Okay, Tea-Time, do we have any artillery brigades in production at the moment?"
"N-No, sir," replies Tihamér.
"Good. You're both fired."
The room erupts in gasps. Gömbös attempts to defuse the situation.
"Sir, you can't-"
"Gumby! There you are, you fascist bastard. I'm putting you in charge of the army, okay?"
"Er... uhm, okay. But I'm still the Prime Minister?"
"Oh, yeah, I couldn't change you even if I wanted to. Now, who's our security guy?"
[Several awkward hours pass...]
"... and that just about does it. Any questions?" Horthy looks around a few moments and ignores the raised hand of Rudolf "Rudy" Andorka, the just-appointed Head of Intelligence. "Okay. I'm'a go to sleep. See you in the morning for your reports."