Prior to his trigger event, Cradle was a source of disappointment to the adults in his life. He was generally reclusive, preferring to isolate himself.
Following the trigger event, his clustermates believed that Cradle's personality had changed as a result of personality bleed-through from Rain, as Cradle himself claimed that none of them were the decent people they have been before.
However, once personality bleed mechanics were cleared, Cradle was revealed as a psychopath, that was intentionally spreading his pathology to his clustermates, with Rain having barely any bleed-through effects with any of them.
Cradle seemed to judge Love Lost somewhat for yelling at her daughter, but did not think that she was a bad person. The two cooperated heavily with each other while in the dream room, trading power tokens with each other after a moment's consideration.
Cradle bears a strong hatred and contempt for Rain, telling him to kill himself and going so far as to hire mercenaries and start a war (with help from Snag and Love Lost) with the Fallen in order to take Rain's life. Cradle feels fundamentally violated by personality bleed-through that he experienced from Rain. Cradle believed that killing Rain would be justice, not just revenge.
Cradle is an older teenager, around 18, with blond hair and badly scratched-up glasses; Rain described him as appearing rather nondescript, aside from his glasses, which forced him to look through them at odd angles. While out in costume, he wears a black mask adorned with a claw-like white hand on the side, with a similar black mesh bodysuit festooned with white hands.
Cradle could imbue his tech's attacks to let them hit with an explosive force beyond what they should have hit with. Victoria speculated that this might have been his version of Rain's Blaster power, or otherwise an adaptation of another Tinker's tech. It was later proven to be the case, as when he took Rain's tokens on their sixth night in the dream room, he described the ability to run this power through objects.
The upgraded version of this, resembles a Shaker ability, as Cradle can summon glowing lines in the area surrounding him, that cut anything they intersect, including powers. These lines stay stationary wherever they are placed.
In addition, he appeared to have an intuitive ability to stay balanced, even while standing upon his hand mech; this was his version of Snag's Mover power. This ability, when supercharged with extra tokens, allows Cradle to warp space in a way that allows him to move between spaces extremely quickly, in a way that resembles teleportation.
Unique to Cradle's cluster, every night, Cradle and his cluster-mates re-lived their memories of the mall incident and were placed in a room where they could exchange tokens to shift the balance of power among the cluster. Cradle's tokens were coins. After Snag's death, as the power balance began to be more uneven, Cradle was apparently stronger
Ryan had psychopathic tendencies ever since he was a child. As such, he was a huge pain to deal with, as he would constantly torment his parents, teachers, and classmates.
Cradle had a tense relationship with his parents and teachers, who felt that he had unrealized potential that he wasn't living up to; this gradually caused him to isolate himself from others.
Things eventually improved for Cradle, and he began to feel happier about his situation in life. Sometime following Gold Morning, however, Cradle was caught in the stampede of people attempting to escape the mall fire set by a group of Fallen, where he lost his glasses and was trampled by the crowd as he tried to retrieve them. Pleading for help but getting none, Cradle had a tinker trigger, becoming part of a cluster with Snag, Love Lost, and Rain.
After his trigger, Cradle buried himself into his workshop, amassing mercenary contacts, resources, and favors.
Along with Snag and Love Lost, Cradle began working to kill Rain, collecting the money and favors necessary to get people together to do so. Over the course of a year, Cradle developed his Tinker technology.
Along with the rest of his cluster, Cradle fainted when Snag was killed. He received one of Snag's tokens.
Later on during the battle, Cradle and his hired mercenary Operator Red were eventually able to capture and torture Rain, until they were found by the heroes. He tried to have the heroes back down, but was unsuccessful. After a fight, Cradle was captured; Tattletale attempted to negotiate for his release, but dropped her request following pressure from the other Undersiders.
Cradle was put into custody at the same prison as Rain and Love Lost. He apparently had been "doing a lot of business," but had few allies and was being frozen out by Tattletale. He was presumably dragged into Goddess'attack on the prison.
Using a scan of Disjoint's power, Cradle created a weapon capable of dismembering people without killing them. He lured the Navigators to a location, where his mercenaries tested the weapon on heroes.
Breakthrough and the Undersiders attempted to keep him from making contact with Love Lost, lest he drain her powers with March's assistance. Unfortunately, all three of villains were already coordinating together, and manage to dispatch two out of three groups sent after them, taking multiple people hostage.
Once Love Lost overstays her usefulness and even dares to bring another parahuman into cluster Cradle proceeds to drain her and her bud.
Cradle retreats to Earth N again, while being protected by an army he had hired.
The remaining active capes of Breakthrough, Undersiders, and several others deploy on a mission to recover body parts and capture Cradle and his accomplices. Despite having an upper hand in battles with them, Cradle eventually gets cornered and forced to give away his method of fixing the maimed people, leaving him to the mercy of a parahuman crowd.
During Breakthrough's invasion into the dream-room, he continued to be uncooperative, attacked them, and was killed. It's unclear how this affected his real body, but likely rendered him brain-dead.
His name may have been derived from the term "cradling", an action usually done by cupping 2 hands together. It may also refer to cat's cradle, a children's game played by tangling string between fingers to make patterns, which Cradle's mech has similarities to.
Making these String Figures is one of the oldest recorded games in history.
↑ 1.01.1A young man. Nondescript. Boring. Blond hair, average weight, clothes without labels, a bit older than Rain at eighteen or so. The slabs of concrete and tile made his space look like a hall of mirrors after an earthquake, if the glass was opaque concrete instead. Shattered, dark, claustrophobic, devoid of the human touch. The only thing about him that stood out was that his glasses were scratched up, to the point where it wasn’t possible to see his eyes. He held his head at funny angles to see through the less scratched part, chin high, looking down, or head bent, looking up and out.
Rain had taken to thinking of him as the recluse. The guy had talked before about not spending much time around people. He was quiet, weird, and his dreams weirder still. - Excerpt from Interlude 4a II
↑ 2.02.1A hand slamming down on the table, a paper beneath it. A mouth opening. A man that might have been Cradle’s father spoke, but it wasn’t words that came out. It was the frantic cries of the crowd, the screams, the shouted jumble.
The paper crumpled slightly as the hand on it closed into more of a fist.
In the background, a very prim and proper woman stood with her back to Cradle.
The parents, Rain interpreted. Disappointment and anger. I can understand that. - Excerpt from Interlude 4b II
“He’s a guy, a little older than me. Glasses. He’s the person with the tinker power. I haven’t picked up much about him, but he doesn’t interact with people much. Less than Snag or the woman, and Snag is an asshole and the woman is mute, so that should tell you something.” - Excerpt from Glare 3.4
↑ 4.04.1“We were decent people,” Cradle said. “And now we’re not. Because of you. Because you’re infecting us.”
Rain looked away.
“Kill yourself,” Cradle said. “I don’t want any piece of you in me. Just… wake up and kill yourself. You can’t be happy with the Fallen. So just end it. Kill yourself. Everything becomes easier.”
“I’m not going to do that, and I’m not with the Fallen,” Rain said. “Not anymore.”
“Kill yourself,” Cradle said. “At least that way it’ll be easy.”
“Are you listening to me?” Rain asked.
“Kill yourself,” Cradle said. “If you don’t, then some time, maybe a month from now, maybe a year, we’ll come for you. We’ll take all of that ugliness you gave us and we’ll give it back. With interest.” - Excerpt from Interlude 4b II
↑ When we give up our tokens, we give up aspects of ourselves. We change the other. Cradle’s been constantly giving up his tinker ability. To Jonathan and me, then to me alone.
Giving us the ability to tinker, and making us into monsters. That’s how we bleed through.
Her hand shook as she touched the barrier.
The most galling part of it all- the Fallen boy had never been given anything. Until now. No bleed-through. Just him. Interlude 12.e II
↑ 6.06.1“So you’ve done some research,” Cradle said. “We were pretty decent people before. Love Lost yelled at her daughter, but-”
Love Lost’s hand slammed against the dais.
“But she wasn’t evil,” Cradle said. He turned to Love Lost. “Sorry.”
↑ 7.07.1“I was getting everything set up, finally living the life I wanted to live, and he fucked it all up. He pulled me into this, he infected me, and now I’m different!”
I opened my mouth to respond, to retort, bait out more and keep Cradle’s attention, so we could figure out a way to get Rain away. If Vista could get to Sveta and Rain- and it looked like she was heading that way-
“He violated my self!” Cradle’s words were more raw than any others I’d heard from him. Angrier. - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑ 8.08.1“I’m not the bastard here,” Cradle said. “He is. Everyone we’ve told the story to has agreed it’s fair. When the bad guy is shitty enough, it stops being revenge and starts being justice.”
“What do you think is going to happen, Cradle?” Capricorn asked. He was incredulous as he asked, “You really think I’m going to walk away when you’ve done this to my friend?”
“What I want to happen, is for Operator Red and I to walk away. You walk away, and leave the Fallen asshole here. Your friend killed my friend and clustermate, the scales are even, we can resent each other and still never see each other again.” - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑ 9.09.1I recognized the three capes in the no man’s land as Love Lost, Snag, and Cradle. The clients who’d paid for this whole thing, with the aim of getting Rain in the midst of the chaos. If they had an assassin, I couldn’t tell who it was. Nobody seemed especially out of place.
It was my first proper sighting of Cradle. He wore a bodysuit and an elaborate sculpted mask with a hand worked into it, fingers and thumb curled into claws, worked into his face and around his eyes and nose as if seen from the side. His bodysuit had much the same design, white hands against black mesh fabric.
More noticeable was the mech, if it could be called that. He stood on a platform that looked like an outstretched hand. A framework of six mechanical arms and four giant hands extended out and around the platform. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.12
↑“I guess I get to be pretty strong today,” the recluse said.
“You won’t need your workshop,” Snag said. “And we could use a better sense of tech, for reasons we discussed on the phone. Give me your share tomorrow, too, and I won’t need it for a while.” - Excerpt from Interlude 4a II
↑ 11.011.1A tinker who’d had a year to prepare, a team funneling him resources, and apparently a bit of talent to boot. - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑Cradle turned, his attention on those on the ground. A lot of strength in those mechanical hands. There had to be a good fifty feet of armspan when the two longest arms were extended, and he had a lot of arms. He hopped over to one of the shorter arms- almost just a wrist that connected to the central hub, and stepped onto the hand, where he crouched with the hand cupped around him. - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑I could see it now. Cords or cables, normally transparent, were illuminated in red light. There was lag, the light tracing one cord that extended from each fingertip, snapping to another position when it fell out of sync. - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑"What?” Cradle asked. He sat on a mechanical hand, one leg dangling.
“With the hood, near March. It’s him.”
Cradle had goggles as part of the suit that networked with his robot. He adjusted one. - Excerpt from Interlude 5y II
↑The cable hit the ground around the base of Cradle’s robot, and the soil exploded with the impact. Again, that surrounding force.
His version of Rain’s power. Or something he’d begged and borrowed for, maybe, another tinker’s tech, modified to work with his gear. That was a thing tinkers could do- a thing that drove them into tinker enclaves or the PRT. Past tense ‘drove’. - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑But he had the power- he could feel it running into the floor, as he pushed the power out toward his feet. He felt it conduct into his bed, then his desk, as he touched them, struggling feebly to find a path to travel. Heavens 12.f
↑It wasn’t a bullet I had to worry about. I was flying, thinking I was safe, when lines began to appear. Silvery, but crisp, like slices in reality, reaching well over the building.
Not meant for me, but dangerous all the same. I flew past one, and the Wretch had a limb extended. I felt the Wretch get sliced, felt the dim sensation that was the Wretch’s extended being part. The forcefield didn’t collapse. It cut.- Heavens 12.7
↑He hurled himself at the bars, at the same moment hands moved apart and the stone shattered. The bars had broken just in time that he didn’t collide with them. A hand moved to provide footing below him as he descended, bobbed to absorb the impact of the fall.
Was that intuitive sense of how to stay steady on his contraption his mover power? - Excerpt from Pitch 6.5
↑He took a deep breath, reaching out with a hand- and he distorted. Teleportation wasn’t the right word. It made me think of Vista closing the space between herself and something else, to get where she wanted to be faster, but it was instant, a snap, and Cradle was perched on the side of his mech, crouching with no regard for gravity, one hand at a panel window.
He didn’t need a deep breath for the movements that followed. There was a tall toolbox resting against the wall, and he was there.
Okay, it was kind of like teleportation, but not like I’d dealt with. A surgical removal of everything between point A and B, including reorientation. It made me think of someone walking through a hall of mirrors, some mirrors angled or set up to portray things at right angles. He was getting more fluid with it by the second, snatching up a dangling wire while upside-down, and bringing it with him to a point where he was standing perpendicular to the ground, to the vent he pried open with the tool from the toolbox. The mechanisms at the interior of the vent illuminated him. Heavens 12.7
↑And… two drainings of other denizens of the room completed, the emotion power with no tokens felt instinctively stronger than any other power he’d had before, when he’d had all three tokens in hand.
He only felt out the barest traces of it, the flexibility and the shape of it, and he sensed the people outside the building. Heavens 12.f
↑“You stupid bitch,” Lionwing said. “He can draw it in. Read your weaknesses in chemical code, running through your head and your veins. He earned money blackmailing people by targeting them. He got more ground with people by sensing how far he could push them before they gave. And all of that was before. When he woke up tonight, he was strong. What he’s been doing? He’s been gathering what he needs.”- Heavens 12.9
↑The others were sorting themselves out. Five shards of glass for Snag, three coins for the recluse. The muzzled woman stared him down. She’d already handed out two of the teeth that served as her token, keeping one for herself. - Excerpt from Interlude 4a II
↑“Keep an eye on her?” Rain asked. “She’s stronger than she was. Cradle too. The bias of power shifts around a lot between our group. Since Snag’s gone, it’s… stormier. The pendulums swing further and harder.” - Excerpt from Beacon 8.4
↑Knife fights were ugly, and Cradle seemed to know that. There weren’t good moves to defend oneself from a knife user who was aware of the full potential of the weapon, and any move that was anything less than good meant horrific damage, often going past skin and into muscle, if not organs. - Excerpt from From Within 16.10
↑The principal, Rain interpreted. He’d seen variations on this. It was usually like this, or else smoke, rubble, or broken glass poured from people’s mouths instead of words. Cradle wasn’t doing so well?
He could understand that too.
It’s even of a similar vein. Unrealized potential, as far as I can understand it. Report cards, teachers, father figures, they want something from him and he doesn’t deliver. He doesn’t hand it over.
Then the long hallway. The trudge. Cradle’s hand was visible as he reached up to fix his glasses, as he reached out to the window. In the distance, far away, the sounds of disaster could be heard. The stampede, the fire.
↑Twice, he reached for the glasses, and his hands were stepped on. There was a desperation in it, more of a struggle to get them than there was even an attempt to stand. The scene was blurred but his hands were as clear as anything.
Close by, a woman screamed, and the sound was prolonged, multi-part.
He found his glasses and put them to his face with bleeding fingers. He was kicked, stepped on.
Pleading for help, reaching and unanswered, Rain interpreted.
↑Someone else spoke, quiet enough he was almost inaudible. It was how he usually talked. “You two should know I’m looking into our situation here. I’ll be experimenting soon, so you should know things might get weird.” [...] “I’m reaching out to someone. They do interesting things with people and sleep. I have no clue what’s going to happen, but it’s possible I won’t show up, or I’ll have a guest. Tomorrow.” - Excerpt from Interlude 4a II
↑Snag had already fallen. Either he’d been hit, or he’d elected to try moving, because one of the silver lines had split. His neck was gouged where it joined the shoulder, a wound deep enough it should have exposed shoulderblade and collarbone. It didn’t, because the blood was thick, and his beard was dense.
Rain was on the ground. In the distance, perched on a hill, Cradle slumped on his platform. - Excerpt from Shadow 5.12
↑Three pieces of glass, striking the pointed peak of crystal at the center of the dais, bouncing off unpredictably.
Two landed in the Fallen boy’s space. One landed in Cradle’s. Love Lost ignored them, didn’t even glance at them. She stared across the dais at him, trying to see him in the growing darkness. - Excerpt from Interlude 5y II
↑“Amends,” she said. “I’ll point you at the Fallen. You don’t have to give me Cradle. If I really need him, I’ll discuss it with you and get permission first.” - Excerpt from Pitch 6.8
↑“Cradle is in custody here,” I explained. “Other end of this complex. I wasn’t able to check in for his meeting with the court processors, because I had physio. I would have skipped, but Capricorn had it.”
“I looked in, sat in the back,” Capricorn said. “It went by quick. He’s been doing a lot of business, which is working against him now, because he can’t explain where his money came from, but he doesn’t have many friends, either. Not while Tattletale is freezing him out.”
“She’s staying out of it?” Rain asked.
“She’s staying out of it,” I confirmed. “As far as we can tell. It’s hard to know for sure with the masterminds.” - Excerpt from Beacon 8.4
↑The Wardens were wanting to make sure he didn’t have the capacity to fight back when they went through the portal to his campsite to talk to him about the potential raid. Reducing his capacity by having him hand over tokens. - Excerpt from Dying 15.6