Disclaimer: I own nothing but Oudel Raff and her tabloid. George Lucas made the characters and the world; I merely play around in it.

Note: Takes place during Revenge of the Sith.

This Just In!

HonorH

Oudel Raff was about to uncover the biggest scoop of her career. She just knew it. This was the story that would finally boost the Coruscant Courier over the Leveler in sales.

Raff was going to uncover the father of Senator Padmé Amidala's baby.

The whispers of Amidala's pregnancy had grown over the past few months as she'd traded in her hyper-fashionable wardrobe for loose,body-concealing garments. Her office was stubbornly issuing denial after denial, but Raff was sure they'd crack any time soon. There was only so long one could hide a pregnancy, after all.

Along with the whispers of pregnancy came, naturally, speculations as to the father. Amidala wasn't married and, in fact, didn't seem to favor any particular man on Coruscant. The Leveler had already jumped the gun (in Raff's opinion) by making guesses at several high-profile entertainers and politicians--some of whom weren't even capable of reproducing with humans!

For her part, Raff would be terribly disappointed if the father turned out to be someone like Ban Hobbe of the Coruscant Knights hoverball team. She thought Amidala was smarter than to fall for Hobbe's lines. Raff was also fairly certain that Bail Organa wasn't to blame, as pretty of a scandal as that would've been; she'd gotten close enough to Organa and his Queen that her instincts told her the man would never cheat.

But Amidala wouldn't be so cagey, Raff thought, if there was nothing to hide. Only the most conservative would demand her resignation simply for being pregnant and unmarried. The worst Queen Ainalana would do would be to recall her to Naboo (politics, in their eyes, being for those without families). It could be that Amidala simply wanted to remain on Coruscant.

It was Raff's gut feeling, though, that there was something to hide, and the journalist's mouth watered at the thought of a big, juicy scandal. She actually rather liked Amidala - for a politician - but business was business, after all; and Raff was sick of the Courier constantly lagging behind the Leveler in popularity.

From her office, Raff carefully manipulated a weather-sensing droid she'd gutted and fit with a holovid camera. Technically, cameras weren't allowed where she wanted to put one (hence the camoflage), so this would have to be another "anonymous source" story. To lessen the chances of being investigated, Raff was obeying the letter of the privacy laws in that she wasn't viewing the inside of Amidala's apartment, but only the balcony.

Only the government's allowed to spy inside houses nowadays, Raff thought sardonically. And there she is!

Figuring out when to use her specially-fitted droid had been difficult, but a careful observation of the senator's behavior had solved that puzzle.

It's where the Leveler gets it wrong, thought Raff. They're far too impatient - not to mention gullible.

Raff had taken a look back at Amidala's usual modus operandi, and she'd discovered that the senator had a history of using decoys to throw her enemies - or the press - off her tracks. Tonight, Raff figured that the Leveler staff was chasing Moteé or Ellé. Raff herself had been fooled earlier in the day when her holovid camera had followed Moteé on a shopping trip for nearly an hour before realizing she was a handmaiden and not the senator.

And that, ironically enough, was what had tipped Raff off to the realization that she needed to observe Amidala's apartment tonight. If the good Senator was having her handmaidens run interference, there must be something to hide.

It looked like Raff's gamble would pay off, too. For one, she now had a positive on that pregnancy. The senator was happily brushing her hair on the balcony while seeming to talk to someone lurking in the doorway, wearing a gorgeous nightgown that skimmed over her protruding belly. Raff chuckled and started recording.

The only frustration was that whoever was lurking in the doorway wasn't making himself visible. Raff was sure it was a man from his stance and the fact that he was considerably taller than either of Amidala's handmaidens. The journalist could see some movement as he leaned against the doorframe, but he seemed content to stand there, and Raff didn't want to move the camera to look inside.

"Come on - move, loverboy!" she muttered. And just as she got frustrated enough to consider breaking the law even more than she had already, he did.

Anakin Skywalker. Well, well, well. What a pretty scandal this would make!

"Oh, you two are in so much trouble!" Raff gloated. She could just picture the headline: "Senator Amidala Caught in Love Nest with Jedi - and She's Carrying His Child!"

Skywalker walked out onto the balcony and took Amidala in his arms, and they kissed passionately. Raff couldn't suppress a squeal of glee. She couldn't imagine a story that would sell better than the forbidden love of the beautiful senator from Naboo and the hotter-than-hot poster boy of the Jedi Order. Sure, it'd wreck both their careers, but (as they say) the galaxy loves a lover, and Raff was sure they'd recover.

Just as Amidala started leading Skywalker back into the apartment for probably a little more of what had gotten them in this mess in the first place, the video cut out. Concerned, Raff sent out a query to the droid, which failed to acknowledge its own existence.

Raff swore in Corellian, then Huttese. Now she'd have to chase down the Force-damned thing before someone else could find it. She'd known the thing had problems when she fitted it with the camera (she'd had to scrounge it from a junkyard), but surely it could carry out one simple task!

At least she had the footage recorded, though, and could file her story before she had to go fetch the camera. She sat down to write it up.

Bright lights suddenly blinded her. Her head snapped up and her eyes went to the office window.

She didn't even have time to scream before she, her office, and her story were obliterated.


Chancellor Palpatine didn't usually read the news; after all, he usually knew most of it before it reached the news networks. Occasionally, though, he looked, just to be sure that some enterprising reporter wasn't getting out of hand and reporting anything like the truth.

Today's top story (the Clone Wars had long since faded to background chatter on Coruscant) was the sad story of the destruction of the offices of the Coruscant Courier. It seemed that a clone police officer's cruiser had gone out of control and crashed into the tabloid's main office, killing the clone and the Courier's general editor, Oudel Raff.

In an unrelated item, a faulty weather droid had caused a bit of damage to Baron Papanoida's luxury apartment when it had exploded. No one had been hurt.

Palpatine glanced over both items and gave an inward nod of approval. There might be a time, he knew, that he would have to expose the lovers' clandestine affair; but that time was not now. Were Anakin and Padme disgraced, Anakin would very likely leave the Jedi Order and follow his wife back to Naboo, and that wouldn't suit Palpatine's plans. Not at all.

The Chancellor switched off the news network and left his office, content that things were proceeding exactly as he wanted.