- "My friend. Though we have never met, you and I... heh. We have been through the fire, together. You won my respect - and my trust. So it is only right I tell you who... I am. My name is Kazimir Zykov. I am... I was... a sergeant in the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army, long... long ago."
- — Kazimir Zykov revealing his identity to Requiem
Sergeant Kazimir Zykov, also known as "The Stranger" and later as The Forsaken, is a character featured in the Zombies mode of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. He is the main antagonist of the mode's Zombies as The Forsaken, as well as the Demonic Announcer.
Kazimir Zykov grew up in Burata, a small village in the Pskov Oblast in the Soviet Union, in the early 20th century where he married his wife Raisa. Both survived the famine of 1922 as well as the 1929 plague that struck the country. They also survived Joseph Stalin's Great Purges during the 1930s. Their daughter, Anya, was born sometime before World War II broke out.
Zykov became a sergeant and a mechanic within the 1st Guards Tank Army of the Red Army scavenging parts of German Panzer and Tigers tanks to repair Soviet T-34s. After the discovery of the Endstation facility and its dimensional breach in early 1945, Zykov was tasked by NKVD Colonel Pavel Lazarev to enter the facility and shutdown the cyclotron because of his knowledge of German machinery.
Knowing the suicidal nature of the mission, Zykov agreed to complete the mission for the greater good. Zykov was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union by Lazarev before entering the facility. The doors were welded behind him. Zykov managed to close the rift but ultimately left him trapped in the Dark Aether with no means of escape as he became tethered to this hostile dimension.
Abandoned and Forsaken
- "Forty Earth years. Four Dark Aether centuries. Abandoned. Trapped. Left to die. But I endured: I fought, I consumed... I evolved."
- — The Forsaken
When Zykov entered the Dark Aether, over forty years of corruption, he would be transformed into a monstrous, malignant being. With this new stage in his life, he named himself as The Forsaken, in reference to his abandonment by Lazarev. As his power in the Dark Aether grew, so too did his ambition. The Forsaken himself shifted the power structure of the dimension from a series of quarreling Old Ones (the then ruling power of the realm) to a unified force under his will. The Forsaken would consume many of the Old Ones and enslaving the others, as well as enslaving the Disciples of an entity named Sparagmos. He would come to be worshiped as an Elder God, and his reign went unquestioned. Among the forces added to the Forsaken's army were German task-force Baldr, sent to the Dark Aether by Projekt Endstation as part of a contingency plan in case of the Reich's defeat in World War II. While the initial plan was to send the team to return to Germany to make way for a New Reich, Baldr soon came under the influence of the Forsaken, who manipulated them to further his own agendas.
Twisting the Minds of Men
Soon after entering the Dark Aether, the Forsaken sought to re-enter his home world with the intent of conquering and consuming it. To accomplish this, he began to manipulate those outside of the Dark Aether into doing his bidding. One human he would manipulate was Angelika Hannabelle Vogel, who he appeared to in the form of her missing father Ulrich Vogel. From that point, Angelika became his unknowing servant.
He also achieved this by using his old identity, Zykov created a journal of his "life" in the Dark Aether to gain the trust of anyone who might hear them.
The first year of "Zykov's" transmissions was marked by the exploration of the Dark Aether which he described as a "strange, fractured land". He started gathering food and water as well as electronics in hope to build a transmitter. He noted that, in addition to the undead, other people were also trapped in this dimension, but always tried to avoid them. At one point, Zykov encountered a group of people sheltered in a warehouse. He tried to save the group as Plaguehounds were approaching. Zykov managed to pull at least one person out of the warehouse, but he ran back inside while the hounds were still there. The first year ended with a complete base of operations with stockpiled weapons, a "little fort". The base featured barricades and traps in case the creatures from the Dark Aether came too close.
During the second year, Zykov gathered lots of electronics but was unsuccessful in building the transmitter. He, however, found "weak spots" where the Dark Aether overlap with their original world. While he couldn't pass through, he caught a glimpse of Southeast Asia.
In the third year, Zykov made several attempts to pass through the weak spots and managed to enter his world for a brief period of time, usually 10 or 15 seconds before being pulled back into the Dark Aether. He visited different locations each time including a village, a jungle and a glacier. Zykov noted that while in their world he wandered unseen, "like a ghost".
The fourth year was marked by his encounter with an Elder God, as some of the survivors called them. Zykov described them as "tall as building". He kept his distance as the creature passed.
During the seventh year, Zykov managed to visit his world for almost 30 seconds. He arrived in a military base where soldiers communicated on an equipment similar to the electronics they gathered. Knowing how it was meant to operate, Zykov returned to his transmitter project. By this point, he was now eating the creatures living in the Dark Aether to survive, noting that consumption of the vegetation yielded in "poor results".
In the eighth year, Zykov managed to visit his world for several minutes. He believed to have arrived in New York City observing "tall glass buildings" and "long cars with fins on tails". Nobody noticed him and the world went without him. Zykov noticed during that year that fewer creatures were pursuing them while still attacking newcomers. However, the powerful creatures have started to notice his presence.
During his tenth year in the Dark Aether, Zykov managed to tame an injured Hellhound and nursed him back to health. The hound was now answering his calls, and stayed close and hunted alongside him. Zykov gave him the name "Cinder" and gave him a place within his fort, keeping it warm. He wished, however, he could pet the hound.
During the eleventh year, he found a dead Elder God, also referred to as an Overlord, with talk that one of them was hunting the rest. Zykov first thought it was crazy talk as some survivors were worshipping those giants, though he soon started to believe the rumors and worried about what could happen if one of the Elder God imposed its will on the others. His fears became realized as he discovered that this entity, whom he referred to as "The Forsaken", was not only slaying the other Elder Gods but absorbing their power and experience, and integrating their followers into his own army.
In the sixteenth year, he found several "machines filled with beverages". Believing them to be a trap, he let other survivors consume what the machines had to offer. He then realized that the beverages had "profound effects useful for combat". He noted that the machines also played music while dispensing the beverages. At one point, he found a red beverage machine which was badly damaged with the internals exposed. He tried to fix it but some parts were beyond repair.
During the seventeenth year, Zykov found a new broken device looking like a a kiln, or a crucible but couldn't fix it. He started considering looking for help. He also became confident that they could complete the transmitter project. Zykov encountered another survivor who was trading items and components and told them about the machines they were repairing. Four days later, however, the Trader arrived with several survivors to attack Zykov's fort. He avoided the trap and broke in. Cinder attacked the invaders but was killed while Zykov was almost burned alive when his only friend exploded. The group stole all the machines and components before leaving the fort. Two days later, Zykov visited the Trader to make peace at first, as human life is rare and precious in the Dark Aether. When they refused his offer, Zykov killed them all. He noted that while they knew that there was still good in humanity, the longer he was in the Dark Aether, the less he remembered what it was.
On November 1st, 1983, Omega Group secured a Projekt Endstation facility in Morasko, Poland, where they accidentally opened a rift into the Dark Aether. Through this rift, the Forsaken was finally able to begin his conquest of that which lay outside of the Dark Aether. Thanks to the rift opened at Morasko, other rifts were opened throughout the world, including a massive rift, dubbed a "super-breach" in the Ural Mountains. The Foresaken commanded the invading forces, seeking to consume this new dimension entirely. The rift at Morasko would, however, be closed by the CIA-backed task-force known as Requiem. While this was a sizeable blow to the Forsaken, it did not stop his invasion, as several more rifts continued to appear across the globe. Around this time, the Forsaken began broadcasting his journal of survival, hoping someone was listening. Ten days later, he found a device set to the frequency he was using for broadcasts in a weak spot. He could see all his transmissions on the screen. After being pulled back, he set his transmitter to indicate if the receiving device has been used, and began looking forward to any sign of someone on the other end.
During Requiem's undertaking of Operation: Threshold, a strike-team would be sent into the Dark Aether through one of the many terraforming Aetherium Processors. As they held out, the Forsaken would both command his forces to attack them and taunt his enemies. However, in his trickery, he also resumed contact through the device as "Zykov", informing those on the other side that he would be working on a way to create vocal transmissions, as well as stating their intent to inform them about the going-ons of the Dark Aether, stating that Requiem's lives "may depend on it". Sometime later, Zykov succeeded in making vocal contact, informing those on the other end that he was Russian, and that he had encountered both electric men that float mid-air and armored monsters. After continuing to observe their fighting, Zykov decides to reveal his true identity to Requiem. He tells Requiem that an army is forming in the Dark Aether, and that they need to bring him home. He also reveals that he is responsible for many of the devices and items that assist Requiem in their battles, such as the Pack-a-Punch Machine, crafting tables, among other things.
Alongside his contact with Requiem, when Omega Group scientist William Peck got a hold of a "strange computer", "Zykov" came into contact with him - seeking another way to come home. Oddly, he assisted Peck in the initial construction of the inversion warheads (created with the purpose of killing him), but the plan was soon abandoned after Requiem disposed of the warheads. He would then begin working on a machine that would bring him home, as his plan began to fall further into place.
In late January, 1985, a portal to the Dark Aether was opened through an abandoned Projekt Endstation Conversion Machine beneath Berlin by Valentina, causing an outbreak within the city and unleashing undead Task: Force Baldr soldiers onto Checkpoint Charlie, now under the command of the Forsaken. Later, on February 2nd, Valentina would enter the Dark Aether and meet with the Forsaken (still under the belief he was her father). The Forsaken congratulated her, tasking her to "ascend" and to lead his army.
However, the Forsaken would yet again be thwarted by Requiem - this time under the forceful command of Omega Group Colonel Lev Kravchenko. There, they would build an Inversion Warhead with the help of robotic Requiem agent Klaus. Requiem would confront a now crystallized and Dark Aether empowered Valentina, who declared the beginning of the "New Reich" as she prepared to send the rest of the Forsaken's army through the portal. Requiem managed to emerge victorious, defeating Valentina and using her powers to power the Inversion Warhead. Klaus would then take the Inversion Warhead, carrying it to the Dark Aether to be detonated. As Klaus entered the Dark Aether, the Forsaken spoke to Requiem, stating that he was not finished and that their world would be his.
During the incursion, "Zykov" came into contact with Requiem once again. From the perspective of Zykov, he indirectly spoke to Requiem about his nature, being able to change shape and manipulate people into doing his bidding by pretending to be someone else - using his manipulation of Valentina as an example. He also talked about a time before his entry into the Dark Aether, when the Old Ones reigned supreme - and how he had devoured many of them.
Escape from the Aether
After the invasion in Berlin, the Forsaken heavily expanded his invasion into the other world. During outbreaks across the globe, he would attempt to trick those caught in the mayhem to freeing him by disguising himself as their loved ones, such as on March 8th, where he disguised himself as the mother of Dimitar Kostov, a man working at an abandoned drive-in theater, or on March 10th, where he disguised himself as "Angela", the wife of an NSA analyst working at Teufelsberg. Creating Dark Aether Vortexes from Primordial Aetherium, the Forsaken began to increase the production of Aetherium Processors as to further terraform the Ural Mountains. Alongside this, on March 12th, 1985, both a site in Algeria and a flotilla of ships in the North Atlantic Ocean became Outbreak Zones on the level of the Ural Mountains. Both Requiem and Omega Group began to lose control of the Ural Mountains, with Omega considering a full retreat and allowing the Forsaken to take the Ural Mountains. Eventually, on May 21st, the Ural Mountains collapsed entirely, becoming uninhabitable for normal life. What was once a large-scale incursion in the Ural Mountains had since become a global terraforming event.
He also resumed contact with Peck as Zykov and had him propose a plan to Lev Kravchenko to bring him back from the Dark Aether. Zykov had sent schematics to Peck for the construction of a device only known as "The Machine" that could bring Zykov home. Peck noted that these schematics were highly advanced and far beyond anything Omega had accomplished. Kravchenko eventually approved of the plan, dubbing it "Operatsiya Izbavitel" as well as diverting all of Omega's funds and attention to it. On February 9th, 1985, Peck triangulated Zykov's position in the Dark Aether, who had become so imbedded in the reality that Primordial Aetherium was required to bring him back. Utilizing Test Site "Anna", Omega now planned to construct The Machine there and bring Zykov back to their reality, in exchange for the Forsaken, who they intended to capture and use against the West.
Return and Defeat
On June 4th, 1985, Operation First Domino began as the Requiem strike-team was deployed to Red Site Anna in the Zakarpatska Oblast. Guided by Weaver and Ravenov, the strike-team infiltrated the facility to confront Kravchenko and Peck to stop them from weaponizing the Forsaken. They were too late, however, as Peck and Kravchenko had already brought him into their world. "Zykov" returned from the Dark Aether, where he revealed that he was the Forsaken all along, and mocked Kravchenko and Peck for being naive enough to trust him. However, Samantha Maxis unexpectedly manifested in Test Site Anna and attacked him. The Requiem strike-team then created a make-shift Aetherium Neutralizer to head to Main Street, where the Forsaken had made his dwelling. While there, he battled the strike-team and Samantha alike, before Samantha made the decision to sacrifice herself by flying into the Forsaken. He was then captured by Peck's machine, and secured by the Director of Requiem.