Gordon Tracy and everyone else who lives on Tracy island form an organization that works to rescue anyone who needs help, without thought to country or affiliation of any kind. But who will rescue Gordon from International Rescue?

Late one afternoon, Alan Tracy entered the lounge of the vast villa that was the home of International Rescue and burst into laughter. His red-haired older brother was crawling about the floor on his knees, a small net in one hand, and several small plastic containers scattered nearby. “What’s the matter, Gordon? Lose a few marbles?”

Gordon grunted and looked up worriedly from peering under the couch beneath the portraits of himself and his brothers arranged along one wall. “Actually, I’ve lost a few lizards. I was feeding the anoles in my terrarium when we got that emergency call this morning, and I must not have closed the top securely.”

Alan squatted down next to him. “Oh, man, you mean those fancy Painted Anoles that you paid a hundred bucks apiece for?”

“Yeah, Al, those anoles. And if Grandma finds those lizards loose in the house, there won’t be enough of me worth fifty cents…”

At that moment, a startled yelp erupted from the kitchen, which was soon followed by the clanging of several metal objects. Gordon sighed and his rolled his eyes resignedly. "Oh, great..."

“Uh, oh, Gord." Alan couldn't quite keep the smirk from his face. "Well, it’s been nice knowin’ ya. I'll be sure that what's left will have a decent burial...”

Grandma came huffing out, holding a small colorful lizard neatly trapped in a jar, and stopped short when she saw her grandsons crawling on the floor. "Gordon, just what is this?"

"That's a painted anole in a jar, Grandma," Gordon answered innocently, getting to his feet.

His oldest living relative wasn't fooled one bit and fixed a glare on him. "You know what I mean, young man. How did it get in my kitchen?" Neither brother thought it wise at that moment to point out that the kitchen in discussion was shared by the entire family and especially Kyrano, with whom she shared the cooking for the household. (Although Gordon was sorely tempted.)

"I was feeding the anoles in my terrarium just before we went out to that tunnel collapse this morning. I guess I didn't get the lid closed properly, and they all got out."

"All? Just how many are there?


"There are five lizards lose in my house?'

Again, Gordon was tempted to correct her, for in actual fact, the house and indeed the entire island was deeded in his father's name. Fortunately, he was interrupted by the entrance of Scott and Virgil, who had been down on the beach, and apparently hearing the commotion in the kitchen, had come to rescue their grandmother from whatever terror she'd aspied. Coming upon the confrontation, however, they seemed disinclined to rescue their brother from her wrath.

"Another prank, Gordon?" Scott asked.

"And on Grandma?" Virgil put in. "You should have more respect for your own hide."

Gordon rolled his eyes. "No, it wasn't a prank." He cast a glance at Alan, appealing for some support, but received only a smirk and a shrug. "I was feeding my anoles this morning before we got called out, the lid was left loose and they got out. Grandma just caught one for me." He turned his winningest smile on his grandmother, but she wasn't buying it. She crossed her arms and lifted an eyebrow.

"...And Alan's gonna help me find the rest of them."

Alan adopted their grandmother's posture, although his was less effective. "Oh, no. You're not roping me..."

He was interrupted by a shriek from down the hallway in which the household members' individual suites were located.

"Sounds like Tin-Tin's already helping you find them," Virgil remarked unnecessarily.

Sure enough, they had barely crossed the room when Tin-Tin stormily emerged, furiously tying a fluffy blue terry bathroom around herself, her bare feet leaving a wet trail behind her. Her expression quelled any remarks, admiring or otherwise, from the male contingent of the present company, as she pointed imperiously down the hallway and announced the obvious. "Gordon! One of your lizards is in my bathroom!"

"Sorry, Tin-Tin." Gordon looked a little thunderstruck, but not the slightest bit repentant.

"Gee, Tin-Tin." Alan obviously didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. "You're usually not afraid of lizards."

"Yeah, especially since you gave one to Alan for his birthday last year." Gordon didn't either.

"I"m not. But I don't usually take a bath with one either!"

"Lucky lizard," whispered Virgil sotto voce. Scott choked on a laugh, but made no further response.

"It's okay,Tin-Tin," Alan said soothingly, "I'll go catch it." He started down the hallway.

"Her hero," Scott muttered to Virgil.

"Oh, sure. He's been looking for an excuse to go back in her bathroom ever since his birthday," Virgil murmured back.

"Yeah, except I think he's been hoping to find Tin-Tin in the shower at the time." Scott chuckled, barely managing to keep his voice down. Tin-Tin could hear the whispers, but evidently not what was said; nevertheless, she glanced at them suspiciously before turning her glare back on Gordon, and it was Virgil's turn to choke.

The two oldest brothers also got a warning look from their grandmother, but even she could not keep the amused twinkle from her eye. They grinned sheepishly at her, all enjoying the unusual switch of roles. After all, it was usually Gordon who played pranks on the rest of them. Apparently, the joke was on him this time--and he'd done it to himself.

Alan had no sooner gone out of sight, when they heard a string of loud Malaysian exclamations followed by a even louder crash, which issued from somewhere beneath the floor. Moments later, Kyrano himself appeared, and although his countenance was once again serene, a slight flush gave away the fact that he had indeed uttered the earlier outburst.

"Gordon," he said calmly. "Unless you can deny being the culprit, I will insist that you clean up the remains of the lizard that you will find in the games room."

Gordon groaned. "Aw, Kyrano, did you have to kill it?"

Virgil couldn't help himself. "Yeah, Kyrano, what happened to harmony with nature?"

Kyrano fixed him with a sardonic gaze. "That tenet is withdrawn when nature is about to harm me."

Scott lifted a hand to scratch his nose, a move which covered most of the grin that he couldn't rein in.

"Harm you?" Gordon inquired in astonishment. "They've never tried to bite me..."

"OW!" Alan's yelp from the hallway preceded his appearance as he re-joined them in the lounge, shaking a bitten finger and carrying a small plastic container, from which the head of yet another of Gordon's lizards protruded. One sleeve and the entire front of his shirt was soaked.

"Have trouble catching it?" Scott inquired in an innocent tone.

"Oh, no," Alan retorted sarcastically. "I just said, "Heer, lee-zard, lee-zard"." He glared at the offending animal ruefully. "I think I should have gotten a bigger box..."

"Oh, it's nothing, Tin-Tin," he protested, as she edged over to look at the injured finger, much to the two older brothers' amusement. Grandma shot them another warning glare.

"Thanks, Alan, you caught Frodo." Gordon said, as he dumped the lizard Alan captured into one of the plastic containers on the floor, along with the other that Grandma found.

"Frodo?" Scott interjected. "Don't tell me you named your lizards after Hobbits.'

Gordon gave him a puzzled now-why-would-I-do-that? expression. "No, not Hobbits..."

Brains took that as his cue to join the party, holding a flask containing yet another of the brightly hued lizards. "Uh, Gordon. I think you should be made a-aware that this species of reptile is, uh, not suitable for this stage of my e-experimentation..." He paused for effect, then continued, in his best absentminded persona, "however, they may perfect for the next phase..."

A stunned silence briefly that followed that astonishing statement ended with a stage-whispered "Ugh, scaly guinea pigs" that came from the vicinity of Scott and Virgil. Although both looked quite innocent when heads turned in their direction.

"Okay, so what did you name this one?" Tin-Tin continued the interrupted conversation, indicating the lizard that Brains now dumped into the container holding the other reptiles.

"That's Gandalf."

Alan snorted. "No, not hobbits, huh? So how do you tell them apart?"

"Well, Frodo has a ring, see," he said, pointing out the lizard that Alan had just captured, "and he's always hiding from the others. Sam has brown feet; he's the one that Grandma found; Gandalf's head is grey, and Aragon has long green legs. Oh, and Gollum is skinny and hisses a lot."

"Almost makes sense," Virgil commented and answered Scott's incredulous look with a shrug. "What?'

The head of the household now made his appearance. Jeff appeared to be limping, but that was because he was wearing only one shoe. The other was in his hand. "All right, Gordon, would you tell me what this lizard is doing in my shoe?"

Gordon spoke without giving it much thought. "Hiding from us big scary humans?" He cringed as the words came out of his mouth, but the rest burst out laughing.

Even Jeff's mouth quirked suspiciously. "I can't believe I gave him an opening like that," he muttered. When the laughter finally died down, he cleared his throat and tried again. "All right, Gordon, I'm still waiting for you to explain how this lizard ended up in my shoe."

All but unsuspecting Jeff and the son in the hot seat rolled their eyes as Gordon took a deep breath and launched quickly into his explanation.

"Well, right before the rescue klaxon sounded this morning, I had the lid to my terrarium open so I could feed my painted anoles, so I closed the lid real quick and hurried to the lounge and went with Virgil to the collapsed tunnel and when we got back, I took a shower and then we ate lunch and then we had the de-briefing and when I got back to my suite, I saw that the lid was open because I hadn't locked it real good, and then Grandma caught Sam in the kitchen and Tin-Tin found Frodo in her bathtub and Alan caught him and Kyrano killed one of them downstairs and Brains found Gandalf in his lab, so I guess Aragorn found time to crawl into your shoe, but I'll put them all back now and I'll make sure they don't get loose, and it'll never happen again, Dad, I promise..."

When Gordon finally stopped for a gasp of air, Jeff held up a one hand in a long-suffering "stop" gesture, his eyebrows twitching ominously as he struggled to keep a stern visage. The rest, with no such compulsions, were in various configurations of laughter, even Kyrano was hiding a grin behind his hand.

Jeff rolled some imaginary object between his jaws for moment, managing to maintain a straight face, and finally spoke. "I see I'll have to get the translation later. For now, I want to see for myself that these lizards are put back where they belong." His father laid a hand on Gordon's shoulder and indicated that Gordon should precede him down the hallway with the other. With Gordon reluctantly locked in his father's grip leading the way, the rest paired off to follow, all curious now to see what other surprises Gordon's terrarium might hold. Grandma and Kyrano led the odd parade, followed by Scott and Virgil, both still in high humor, with Tin-Tin and Alan bringing up the rear.

"Aren't you going to finish your bath, Tin-Tin?" Alan inquired quietly, but not soft enough to keep Scott and Virgil from hearing and exchanging a knowing glance.

"Oh, no. Not until I'm sure that all of Gordon's "water dragons" are securely locked up."

"But the water will get cold."

"That's okay, it'll be just right to cool you off..." and she gave the two brothers in front of them a sharp poke with a manicured finger. "...All of you."

The two oldest had the grace to look chagrinned, but only for a moment.

"Say, Gordon," Scott said thoughtfully. "About the lizard Kyrano wasted. You said Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and Aragorn are accounted for. Does that mean that Gollum met his doom?"

Virgil picked up on Scott's train of thought and chuckled a summation. "Yeah, so he's not so precious anymore, is he?" And the two barely managed a stumbling progress, laughing so hard they could hardly walk.

To Gordon's relief, they finally reached his suite of rooms. The door slid open with a slight skittering sound and they all trooped in as Gordon led the way to a low glass enclosure that filled most of his living room area. Gordon lifted the plexiglass top and carefully placed the box containing his remaining painted anoles inside. After a moment, the colorful anoles climbed out and moved off to their favorite resting spots among the artful shallow pools and broad-leaved plants scattered under two Nature lamps.

"Wow, Gord, I'm impressed." Alan said in a hushed voice, walking around the structure in awe.

"So am I," rumbled Jeff.

"Gordon, the plants have really grown since I saw them last," Tin-Tin commented.

Alan looked up and blinked at the implication, glancing first at Gordon, then at Tin-Tin. Gordon was oblivious, but Tin-Tin lifted an eyebrow at him. Alan cocked his head and gave her a questioning frown.

"I helped him pick them out." Her words were accompanied by a slight smile and a shrug that did nothing to alleviate Alan's misgivings.

Brains had squatted down and was peering in from the side. "Ah, what do you, uh, feed them?" he asked.

And Gordon, basking in his family's positive reaction to his project, thought he could show

off a little.

"Well, unlike most anoles, these are more active. And since they're omnivores in the wild, they usually hunt and eat live insects. To simulate that, I give 'em crickets occasionally along with their regular Lizard Chow..."

"Crickets?" Grandma asked, startled.

"That's right, but I fed them this morning. Don't worry, Grandma, all the crickets are accounted for..."

"So you have to go out and hunt crickets for them?" Alan asked, cringing as he imagined hunting the steamy vegetation elsewhere on the island for the elusive insects.

"Naw, they're feeder crickets; I order them from a pet store in Auckland. But they come a hundred to a box, so they last a few weeks. I just got a shipment of 'em yesterday..."

"Uh, Gordon, does the box they come in have a label that says "live bait"?" Scott asked from the other side of the room.

Gordon looked up with a puzzled expression. "Yeah...?"

"And does the box have holes punched in the sides?" Not surprisingly, Virgil was standing next to Scott. Both were staring at something at their feet.

"Yeah..." Gordon began moving toward them, puzzled as to their behavior. "...So they can breathe, but there's nylon mesh over the holes. They can't get out..."

Scott stooped, and lifted an object from the floor. "Uh, Gords, this box has been opened..."

"I know, I just told you I got the shipment yesterday and I opened it so I could feed them this morning."

Virgil took the box from Scott, lifted it to his ear and shook it slightly. "No, Gord, he means it was left open...and now it's empty!"

Gordon stopped in his tracks and scanned the floor around them swiftly.

"Uh, oh."

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