A group of boys at Bunson and Lacroix's Boys' Polytechnique. They wear black shirtwaists and riding boots, sew cogs on their jackets, and brood about the state of the Empire. Many members are the sons of Picklemen, and the group is known for churning out new Picklemen.
- "Oh, they think they are something quite exclusive, skulking about in riding boots, and wearing black shirtwaists, and being all gloomy about the state of the Empire. They sew cogs on the breasts of their jackets in a non-useful manner. Really it's only an excuse to push everyone else around." (Etiquette & Espionage, Lesson Twelve)
- "A group of boys stood with indolent posture and dark attitude. They were all dressed in browns and blacks, their hair was slicked back with too much pomade, and there were evening top hats on their heads--even though they were not yet presented and it was not yet teatime. 'Who do they think they are?" wondered Sophronia. 'Pistons, of course,' replied Dimity. Each boy wore a brass-colored ribbon about his hat and had a gear affixed to his waistcoat. One or two had some kind of decorative protective eyewear perched atop the brim as well. They all wore riding boots, although not a single saddle horse was to be found. Sophronia said, in tones of mild shock, 'Some of them look like they are wearing facepaint.' 'Kohl, about the eyes,' explained Dimity." (Etiquette & Espionage, Lesson Sixteen)
- “'Most likely Pistons,' said Pillover in a resigned tone of voice. 'You told them about the ball. They like to go to events uninvited, put gin in the punch, and steal all the spoons. Stylish shenanigans like that.'" (Etiquette & Espionage, Lesson Sixteen)