Nebula has suffered repeated abuses against her person, since she was pitted by Thanos against her sister again and again. Each time she lost a fight, he replaced a piece of her body with robotics, to make her an “equal” to her sister. This built up a cycle of anger and resentment toward her sister, yet when it comes right down to it, she can’t kill her, because “all you wanted was to win… and all I wanted was a family.” Her previous experiences cloud her judgment, and make her angry, but she’s also unable to separate herself from them. Each time she sees Thanos, or Gamora, she remembers the pain, humiliation, and suffering she experienced at their hands, and struggles to envision a new life away from those bad memories. Rather than break free, she thinks she has to kill Gamora to dispel them; and then she assumes she has to do the same to her “father,” Thanos. In the meantime, she serves a practical role, and makes decisions oriented toward immediate results. She is comfortable being in charge, issuing orders, and coming up with plans of action, such as when she aligns herself with the Scavangers to gain access to a ship, so she can chase after her sister, but also saves Rocket’s life (a favor she reminds him of later). She points out rational things, such as when she convinces Groot to release her so she can save Rocket (he can’t fight that many people all on his own). She doesn’t take no for an answer, she is logical in her approach to targeting her enemies, and she is decisive in choosing what she wants and going after it. Nebula knows when to make her move, and when to cut and run. Her alliance with Ronan is based on their shared hatred; until she realizes he is a viable threat to her father, and shares her contempt for him, she is disinterested in him. Her motivations are all based in her personal feelings of rejection and abuse; she cares for no one other than herself and even rejects her sister’s attempts to save her, preferring instead to continue in her pursuit of revenge in the first film. Later, she finds she cannot kill her sister after all, that her intentions don’t match up with the desire to form a family with her that still burns in her heart. She can’t go against her own values, even for the revenge she thought she wanted. She only hints at her deep emotions when necessary to form an alliance.  Nebula flees the scene when it becomes obvious Ronan is “going down”; she abandons her former scheme to form a new one. She has no fixed plan on how to take down her father, but instead is influenced by the possibilities within her environment.

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Nebula has learned, through her abusive childhood, to trust no one, but she also desperately wants to connect to people, to have a sister to count on, and a father who loves her. She remains loyal to him at first despite his awful actions toward her, and then loyal toward Ronan as she helps him in his revenge scheme, but abandons him when it becomes clear staying with him is the irrational choice and would lead to her downfall. She is all about family and finding a place to belong, and a lot of her resentments are tied to her being angry about her sister refusing to protect her in their fights; she wanted Gamora to let her win, just once, so she could avoid the pain of being “upgraded” through torture. Though fearful, reactive, and defensive, Nebula is also secretive, withdrawn, and assumes she can “go at it alone.” It takes her time to feel comfortable in a group and not assume she has to only look after herself.