- Geary: "I can die fighting. I imagine it's easier the second time around."—Geary: I need a politician. Someone who can make an argument last as long as possible. Someone good with saying lots of words that don't mean what they sound like, and avoiding commitments."Rione: Why, thank you, Captain.—Michael Geary: I assure you I will carry out my duties as if Black Jack Geary himself were my commander."John Geary: I don't know whether to curse you again or shoot myself.—"I am Captain John Geary. I am now in command of the Alliance fleet. You are dealing with me now. These are my ships. Back off."—To Whom It May Concern: The left side drawer sticks. The coffeemaker's timer does not work. There's sweetener and coffee in the right desk drawer. Take care of everything.
—"We usually use the term flying elephant. A flying pig would probably be much more maneuverable than Titan with a full load."
- Note found in abandoned Syndic Base
—Geary: More than once, Madam Co-President, I have wanted more than anything to have died on my ship a century ago.—The three things you need to worry about the most during the hours leading up to an engagement are acting too early, acting too early, and acting too early.
- Captain Tyrosian describing the standard performance of her fully loaded Fleet Auxillary ship.
—Geary: We're extremely far from the Alliance, the Syndics are still causing trouble for us, and the warships of this fleet are shot to hell after fighting our way through enigma- and Kick-controlled space, then fighting again here. The warship we took from the Kick alien race is valuable beyond measure but also a threat magnet and a drag on this fleet. We have no idea what's happening back in the Alliance but every reason to believe whatever is happening isn't good. Did I forget anything? Oh, yes, my flagship's commanding officer just asked me if anything was wrong!"Desjani (calmly): "But aside from all that you're good?"Geary laughs.—Desjani (to Geary): "There are parts of my dating history that you probably don't want to know about."—Dr. Shwartz (on academic warfare): "Vicious and ugly battles. Battles for academic primacy, battles for credit for discoveries, finding and interpretations. Battles for positions on boards and study groups. There will be ambushes to strike the unwary, no end of verbal and written atrocities inflicted on the combatants and innocent bystanders, and horrible barrages of rhetoric exchanged in unending debate until some bloodied figures manage to surmount the smoking wreckage of truth and declare themselves authorities over the scholarly rubble that remains."Geary decides to stick to real warfare.—Senator Unruh: "Could we break with long-standing precedent and actually learn something about a subject before we make statements about it?"—Desjani: "Oh please! One of those stories where the beautiful, brainy princess wakes the sleeping Black Jack with a kiss so that together they can overthrow the evil star demon and live happily ever after."Geary: "Tell me that you're kidding."Lt. Castries: "Those are usually pretty good. They don't get you right, Admiral, of course."—The meaning of life is that in the end you always get screwed.
- Geary's long dead instructors in tactics.
—"No," Rione replied Sharply. "I don't imagine Black Jack enjoys challenges to her authority. I understand you faced some more of that and dealt with them severely.""I need to maintain control of this team, co-president! I could have reacted much more strongly than I did, and you know it."Instead of hurling his anger back at him, Rione grimaced and sat back. "You could've. The important thing isn't that I know that; it's that you know it. You're thinking about the things you could do, the things you could get away with, as Black Jack. Isn't that so?"Geary hesitated. He didn't want to admit that, but Rione was the only person he could possibly be open with about it. "Yes. Those options are occurring to me.""They didn't use to, did they?""No.""How long can you stop him, John Geary? Black Jack gets to do whatever he wants because he's a legendary hero. Because he's won dramatic victories in command of this fleet."Geary glared at her. "If I don't win victories, this fleet dies."She nodded. "And if you do, your legend grows. Your power grows. Every new victory carries a hazard, because it would be so much easier for Black Jack. He wouldn't have to convince others to do what he asks; he can just command them and punish those who disagree. He wouldn't have to worry about rules or honor. He could make her own."Geary sank back as well, closing his eyes. "What do you suggest, co-president?""I don't know. I wish I did. I fear for you. None of us are as much in control of ourselves as we'd like to think we are."
- The Catch 42 Expression
Quotes / The Lost Fleet