As has already been discussed (in "Seven in the Shadows") Serena Vervain acquired several new allies during her year-long war with Cabot, Cunningham and Crowley. When she chose them (or agreed to let them choose her, in some cases) she thought she was simply recruiting people whose talents could be useful to her, people about whom she wouldn't care as much as she did her friends and family, so that it wouldn't hurt if she lost them. As it turned out, they would be more than that. When it was all over, Seven wondered aloud whether she had been seeking out people who could teach her the lessons she needed to learn.
From Meg Richie, a former agent of AEGIS' "Sigil Branch" who'd become a "fixer" in retirement, she learned a number of things, most obviously certain of her skills in networking. But the most important lessons that Seven learned from Meg were about practicality and pragmatism. While she's never been an airy-headed idealist, Serena has usually focused on what ought to be, rather than what is. Meg's hardheaded focus on the material and the immediate could have clashed with Seven's usual approach to thing, but committed as Seven was to bringing down the enemy by whatever means necessary, she was also able to come to appreciate the fixer's perspective.
It wasn't until it was all over that she learned that Meg had another agenda. Cabot, Cunningham and Crowley had made quite a few enemies in the legal community, enemies who were willing to support efforts to humble the firm as long as they didn't have to get their hands dirty. Meg was, at least in part, acting for mercenary reasons, and received a large commission for her role in the firm's troubles. It's a testament to what Seven had learned from her that she didn't get angry about this when she found out the truth.
Anton Levesque, a scholar of the supernatural and an old acquaintance of Richard McNichols, was brought into the alliance by him. Seven found his book-based magic to be fascinating, but she soon realized that she outstripped him in most mystical respects. That could have been the lesson that her interactions with him were supposed to teach her - that she was already more powerful than the vast majority of magic-users, and shouldn't go seeking more power -- but she would also learn that from meetings with Doctor Li and Dame DeMaurier.
Instead, it seems likely that what she was supposed to learn from him was what real betrayal felt like, rather than the hurt that she felt when she learned that her grandmother and Eldrich were keeping secrets from her "for her own good". When Levesque sold the team out for a bit more magical lore, he wasn't acting in anyone's interests but his own. And he got away with it, too -- disappeared so effectively that neither Meg's vast network of contacts nor Serena's magic could find him. Yet because she now understood what it was actually like to feel betrayed by someone, Seven was able to find it in her to forgive her loved ones. For that reason, if she ever finds Anton, she's just going to burn his books to cinders, rather than hurting him.
Barbara Collin, a psychic investigator formerly associated with the district attorney's office, contacted the group as it was forming. She flatly confessed that she had a grudge against Cabot, Cunningham & Crowley, who'd caused her to lose her job, and wanted in on the attempt to bring it down. While Barbara helped Seven to develop her psychic sensitivities, the lessons that she inadverantly taught her about subtle use of paranormal resources were much more important. Seven has always imitated Eldrich's extremely flashy magical style, but now she's come to appreciate a quieter approach.
"Dwight", who remembered no other name from the time before his transformation into a hideous creature, taught Seven a very valuable lesson about not judging by appearances. Not that she assumed that his horrible exterior was proof of his horrible interior; far from it. But assuming that horrible exterior masked a sweet, gentle interior was every bit as big a mistake. The sadistic side that he ultimately revealed forced Seven to confront her own tendency to go too far.
Satsuki's lesson was the strangest. Motivated solely by love for Richard McNichol, the cat-girl stood and fought alongside Seven despite the fact that she couldn't stand her. The notion that love can make people do strange things wasn't news to Serena, but it took her a while to come to grips with what Satsuki called love -- a decidedly carnal thing, with elements of domination and submission, and a far cry from Seven's own, more intellectualized passions. Understanding someone with emotional needs so different from her own was a challenge every bit as daunting to Seven as any physical conflict could be.
The hardest lesson was taught by the one casualty that the team suffered. Amy Madison, a beat cop with the FCPD, had been killed months before by one of the junior associates of Cabot, Cunningham & Crowley -- not as part of some elaborate scheme, but through simple negligence, when the lawyer was driving drunk and ran the off-duty police officer off the road. He escaped punishment for his actions due to legal maneuverings by the firm, and that drew Officer Madison back from the dead as an enduring guardian, who joined forces with Seven's Shadows in hopes of dealing with her unfinished business.
That business involved stalking the lawyer who'd killed her and terrorizing him. Seven found herself assisting Officer Madison in this pursuit, and was far along enough on the path of vengeance that she didn't even try to stop Madison from taking her murderer captive in preparation to execute him. But Madison surprised her; she didn't kill the man who'd killed her. She didn't want him to lose everything, just to think that he was going
to lose everything, as she had thought the same thing. As it turned out, fate had given her a second chance, and it wouldn't be right to deny him that. That would make her worse than he was -- not as bad, worse.
Having done this, Madison commented that she felt tired, and lay down. As she wasn't alive in the first place, it can't be said that she died, but she definitely ceased activity. Seven and the others buried her in the grave from whence she'd emerged, months before, and Seven found herself musing on what she'd just learned about the difference between justice and vengeance.
The lesson came almost too late. Seven's ultimate plot to take vengeance on Lucius Cabot had already begun. The junior associate that Madison had tormented took back with him the information that important secrets of the Vervaine family were buried under Claremont Academy, and the information came into Lucius Cabot's possession. The plan was that Cabot would unwittingly walk right into the presence of the Vengeance Spirit, which would be satisfied with him. But at the last moment, Seven realized that it wouldn't.
Accompanied by her remaining allies, Seven set out to rescue Cabot from his confrontation with the Vengeance Spirit. Owing to some confusion involving Dauntless of the Alterniteens, they weren't able to do so -- but as the Spirit seized hold of Cabot, Seven found her second sight greatly enhanced, and saw the being clearly for the first time.
To her vision, it was as though one hand almost too vast to be perceived was holding onto Cabot, while another hand was reaching towards him, as though to remove him from that hold ... and she looked up, and saw that both hands were the hands of the same, impossibly vast being, which seemed divided against itself. And so, for good or ill, she had to choose to which part of that creature she owed allegiance.
She made her choice. And though Cabot was dragged away into the depths of the Abyss, screaming all the way, that was not by any choice of hers. Those were his own choices, coming back to haunt him. She would have protected him if she could. Instead, she had to settle for the lesser victory of sending the Vengeance Spirit back whence it came, ending its binding to this plane.
With Cabot gone, the senior partners of Cabot, Cunningham and Crowley have descended into infighting, and other law firms have started to fill the role that it once played in the city. Though most of them have less supernatural taint, they aren't really any better. Basically, what the Seven Shadows achieved with their heroics was a slightly different version of the status quo.
Seven decided that she was all right with that.
"Just one question," asked Richard McNichol, as she reflected on all of this in his presence, a little while later. "You've gone over what all of us had to teach you, except me. What'd you learn from me?"
"Some really bad jokes."
"Ah. Well, you're welcome."
"And one other thing. Why'd you help me?"
So he told her then, about how his father, an accountant, had once helped Cabot, Cunningham and Crowley cook their books, and had been cursed as a result, sending their entire family on a never-ending quest to restore the balance of supernatural power. He'd hoped that by demolishing the firm, he'd free his family from that geas ... but it hadn't worked out that way.
Seven nodded. "I figured it was something like that. What've I learned? That trying to make up or get vengeance for stuff that happened to your ancestors is a pretty lousy way to live. And that it might be better to focus on living so that your own kids won't feel that they have to fix your mistakes, or avenge your memory."
He looked at her for a moment, and then smiled. "I think I prefered the one about the jokes."
"Yeah, it had punch," she agreed.
"Mm-hm." Unexpectedly, he leaned forward and planted a kiss on her forehead. "Your kids are gonna have nothing to worry about," he said, voice strangely rather thick at the moment.
Serena blushed, got up, and headed for the door. "I'd better get out of here before you start getting all blubbery on me."
"Yeah. Anyway. Blessed be." And she flashed a V before she headed out.
It could still go either way, Richard knew. She could end up being a Master Mage so great as to make people say "Adrian who?" Or she could wind up being the first Dark Lord of the Tellurian. But her destiny was in her own hands now ... and he had a feeling she'd do just fine.
* * *
In the wake of the dissolution of the Seven Shadows, Seven had a brief confrontation with the corrupt sorcerer known as Nevermore, who -- for inscrutable reasons -- revealed to her what the Crime League was up to with the Olympians. She took that information to the Freedom League, and has been admitted as a member. With Siren now largely focused on New Orleans, she has become the core team's magical consultant, as well as acting as a liason between the League and Claremont Academy. She's working to mend the relationships that she broke off when her war began, with some success ... and is finally getting to know her grandfather as a person, rather than a living legend.
[Seven's updated statistics can be found here
. Most of her team-mates were characters from the Street-Level Archetypes series of accessories; Richard and Satsuki's stats can be found here.