An old short story first published in the Black Library anthology Words of Blood, Dan Abnett’s Ork Hunter follows Corporal Ondy Scalber of the Jopall Indentured as he and his fellow guardsmen blunder through the Armageddon swamps under the ‘guidance’ of the wild Sergeant Keyser and his Ork Hunters. As feral as the orks they hunt, indifferent to the fates of the ‘skinbait’ Jopall, Keyser and his men are ruthless killers compared to whom the Jopall are careless children. To survive, Scalber will have to adapt to his environment, the enemy he hunts, and the company he keeps.
Abnett has a knack with really short stories of drilling down to the heart of the story he’s telling, and this is no different. Characters are painted in broad brush strokes but with enough little details that they ring true despite the story’s brevity, and though Scalber’s arc is rapid it feels satisfying and appropriate. It’s a classic ‘to know your enemy…’ tale, and one that shows the Guard on an individual, human level and not just one insignificant man against inevitable odds. It may be short (and a touchy pricey at £2.49) but it’s entertaining and worth a read.