Author's comment: Some people, when they pick up a book, ignore the foreword, or prelude, if there is one. They want to get right to the story. Don't do that with this story. The prelude provides critical information for the understanding of the plot.
This is a complicated story, because of the number of characters in it, and the fact that all of them were taking small steps forward at the same time. It may seem disjointed, at first, but, as you get to know the characters, it will get a little easier. I made a separate file for a list of characters, and a separate chapter called "The Participants", which may be reviewed at any point as you read the story, to refresh you on who people are, and what their background is. Additionally, I have attempted to make it a little more "reader friendly" by giving each chapter a title that will identify the primary characters in it. Some chapters are very short, and some are very long. It was just how things had to be, to present the story in a way that, hopefully, flows well. Thanks for your patience.