Yeah, OK, that had to go. But it did make the nature of Shayla's intent a lot clearer: you burned my planet, I'll burn yours.
So the driver for the story is a personal quest for revenge. But if you look for something a bit deeper, it's more about the dangerous spiral that results, what such a quest can turn you into, and most especially about the dangers of misplaced actions.
Shayla's quest is intensely personal, and childishly selfish. She lost her home, everything that she had ever known, and it wasn't an accident. Someone had made a choice. That someone would pay. Like for like.
The trouble is, all the millions of other people who had also lost everything never featured in Shayla's thinking. As a child, everything was about her. They weren't important, and nor were the lives she was about to take.
In my mind's eye, I picture all those lost innocents, casualties of Eloon, watching from the sidelines and praying for Shayla not to make the same mistake. Not to commit the same crime as her aggressor all those years ago.
These ghostly hordes are echoed through the story, in the eyes of a young girl on board a starship that Shayla crashes, in the mother and children shackled in a town square for public punishment, in the young cadets swarming across the parade ground as the Emperor's own ships launch their assault on his homeworld.
These are the ghosts of innocence that haunt Shayla, and which ultimately pull her back from the brink.