Harley is the leader of the Vanguards, one of the six Tribes of the Junkyard
. His primary rival tribe is that of the Embryon. The Vanguards are more powerful than the Embryon numerically, but the Embryon are blessed with many talented personnel such as tactician Gale
, sniper Argilla
, scout Cielo
, muscle Heat
, and leader Serph
. As a result, the two tribes are constantly fighting skirmishes with little result in terms of territory gained. Harley himself is often seen using a crossbow with exploding arrows.
Events of Digital Devil Saga
It is during one of these skirmishes that a mysterious pod falls from the sky. Both sides believe it is a ploy from their enemies and issue an ultimatum to remove it from the battlefield. Neither side can, so fighting ensues. Not long after, the pod explodes, sending out hundreds of mysterious shafts of light. As the light strikes a person, mysterious marks known as Atma appear on their bodies and the person transforms into a raving demon. It is here that Harley first transforms into Hayagriva, where he promptly loses control and begins slaying his own men. The Embryon, too, lose control, and also begin slaughtering Harley's men. It is unclear why, but for some reason Harley suppresses his own actions with regards to his men and only remembers the Embryon's.
Following these events, the surviving Vanguards retreat to their base Svadhisthana. Seized by fear, the Vanguards leave the outside of the base completely unguarded. Serph, Heat, and Argilla, seeking an answer for what has occurred to them, enter the base. There, they meet a panicked Harley, who denounces them as monsters while simultaneously trying to control his own Atma mark from transforming him once again. Panicked by the site of his men transforming, Harley retreats deeper into the base. The Embryon pursue, and manage to trap him in his room, where Heat menaces him with death unless he tells the Embryon what he knows. Harley, unable to answer, is thrown contemptuously across the room. It is here that Harley realizes that he has no other choice: it is truly a case of eat, or be eaten. He then transforms into Hayagriva and battles the Embryon. Unfortunately for him, however, he is defeated and devoured by the Heat and Serph. His lands and men, per the law of the Junkyard, pass to the Embryon.
Events of Digital Devil Saga 2
Harley appears briefly in Digital Devil Saga 2 as a solar noise awash in the realization that he must eat or be eaten. He encounters the Embryon once more and battles them as a far more powerful Hayagriva, but is once again defeated.
Harley, though only present in the story for a short time, plays a very important role. He is the first character in the story to be affected by any sort of emotion. Indeed, it is also through Harley that we begin to see the differences in the characters aligned with the Embryon. We see that Argilla has reservations about devouring her enemies and that Heat has few. His accusations toward the Embryon awaken Argilla's emotions. Likewise, Heat's emotions are awakened as he threatens Harley. Finally, Harley's realization, eat or be eaten, also becomes a running theme throughout the game, one that some characters embrace, and others reluctantly accept as a necessary evil of their world.
Harley as Hayagriva, as the leader of the primary initial rival Tribe to the Embryon, is the first boss in Digital Devil Saga. As such, he is not too difficult to defeat, and uses his demonic powers without much skill. However, in his encore appearance in Digital Devil Saga 2, he has increased exponentially in challenge.
In Digital Devil Saga, Hayagriva possesses exactly four moves. One of them is a regular physical attack, and the other is basically another physical attack but with the fire element (called "Skewer"). His other attack is Void Ice, which he uses at the cost of his turn, but prevents the Embryon from exploiting his weakness of Ice. His fourth and final move is by far his most powerful, a medium-powered fire attack called Fire Storm. However, this and all of his major attacks are easily countered with Heat's Void Fire technique. As long as this move is used every turn, it is pretty much impossible for Hayagriva to win.
In Digital Devil Saga 2, Hayagriva is much more powerful. He makes frequent use of Psycho Rage, giving him four actions per turn, which he normally uses to void his Ice weakness as well as to use Fire Storm multiple
times. However, a similar strategy can still be used, and since it is late in the game when Hayagriva is fought, damage dealing should not be too much of a problem. He also makes liberal use of Skewer, but not usually as a part of the Psycho Rage combo.
Atma Avatar - Hayagriva
Atma Mark - Burning Stake
Mark Locale - Right Lower Arm
Emotions Awaken - After devouring his own men, right after transformation into Hayagriva
Voice Actor (Japanese) - Masaya Onosaka
Voice Actor (English) - Lex Lang
Harley is known as Harley Q in the Japanese version of the game. Likewise, the Vanguards are known as the Assignments.
Hayagriva, Harley's atma form, is a horse-headed deity from Hinduism and Buddhism. He is seen in Hinduism as an avatar of Vishnu, and is venerated as a god of knowledge and wisdom. As a manifestation of Vishnu, Hayagriva is seen as a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. In Tibetian Buddhism, he is seen as a wrathful manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara with 108 forms. Interestingly, from none of these mythic figures is derived fire, which is Hayagriva's element of choice in Digital Devil Saga.
"I see...I understand now...In this world, it's eat, or be eaten!"
"You murdered them and ate them all!"
"That light...that weird light shot right through us...any everyone...everyone started freaking the hell out!"
"Burn to ashes!!"