Yakov Iliev was an engineer working for a small mining company on a small backwoods planet. His mine was constantly under assault by bandits, so Iliev retooled some of the T-280 space construction vehicles that the mine operated into combat walkers. The bandits were repelled from the mine, but his company was unhappy that this made the subcontracted security they had look bad. They attempted to fire Iliev, but soon after Axiom Ordnance bought the company, and Iliev's plans were included in the acquisition.
The official Axiom statement was that Iliev retired due to his inability to work in a corporate environment. Ottmar Drenthe and Ayla were under the impression he was forced out of the company and his designs were stolen. After Ayla and her workers took over the Bukari V Axiom complex, she promised Drenthe that she would come to Korhal to star in one of his holovids if he would find Iliev and inform him that Axiom wanted to hire him.