Short Circuit (Thorston; M1)
Marble League 2016 (3rd Place); Marble League 2017; Marble League 2018; Marble League 2019; Marbula One Season 1; Marble League 2020; Marbula One Season 2; Marble League Winter Special; Marble League 2021; Marbula One Season 3
Bolta, Bolto, Boltu, and Bolty, the four original members of the team, are all from the twin cities of Thorston and Stormholm. They met at a mythology convention in 2012 where they all dressed up as mythical creatures of the sky. When they tried to communicate with each other, each realized that they couldn’t speak. Through roll language, they found several things in common including their affinity for racing. Each member had aspired to compete in marble sports, but their inability to speak made it difficult to find a team. Upon meeting each other, the possibilities flooded in and they began planning for their athletic careers as the Thunderbolts.
The team joined the Knikkegen Marble League later that year and rose through the ranks, peaking at second where they finished in 2014 and 2015 behind the Screw Blades and Team Primary respectively. The team became known as one of the fastest teams in the league, and by the time Marble League 2016 was announced, was one of the top teams alongside Team Primary and earned an invitation to the tournament. The Thunderbolts did not want to be known as “the team that couldn’t talk,” but as “the team that always shocked the competition.” And that they did; the Thunderbolts’ achievements in competition prove that any marble can overcome adversity and shine on the podium.
The Thunderbolts had a banner year in Marble League 2016. They struck quickly, earning their first bronze during the Relay Run. They followed that up by claiming their first gold in Collision and rose to first place overall. Another silver came after Bolta reached 97.6 cm in the Long Jump, and a fourth medal followed via a bronze in Team Pursuit. In the final event, they added one more medal, a bronze in Hurdles, to finish with five medals in 12 events. While much of the attention seemed to focus on the close win of the Savage Speeders against Mellow Yellow in that final race in Hurdles, few viewers noticed that Bolto was just two-hundredths of a second behind Yellup, 5.36 versus 5.34 for the latter. Up until the Hurdles event, the Thunderbolts had been in between first and second place since the fifth event, but at the end of Marble League 2016, the Thunderbolts fell to third overall: tied with Mellow Yellow in points, but just behind them in medals.
The Thunderbolts automatically qualified for Marble League 2016 by way of their third-place finish in the previous season. The team started the season well enough, earning a bronze medal with Bolty’s 71.0-centimeter performance in the Long Jump. At this point, the team was fifth in the overall standings, which, as the tournament progressed, would be the closest they would get to the podium. The Thunderbolts mounted a small comeback in Archery, where they scored another bronze medal and earned a third with Bolta’s run in the final event, the Sand Rally. The Thunderbolts ended Marble League 2017 in 12th overall, a far cry from the podium which they had stood on in 2016, but the team was still grateful for their chance to compete, shying away once again until Marble League 2018 Qualifiers.
The team was sorted into Group C; their third-place showing during the Snow Race and first-place in the Halfpipe allowed the Thunderbolts to storm into Marble League 2018 with high hopes. These hopes initially seemed dashed, but the Thunderbolts earned their first medal of the season, and their first gold medal since 2016, in Bobsled. They rose to second place in the standings, expecting excitement, but there was very little if any: Team Momo’s injuries seemed to draw far more attention from the marblebase. In the latter half of the season, the Thunderbolts remained in the top half of the standings, with two more bronzes thanks to Bolto in the Snowboard Cross and the team in the Biathlon. The championship seemed within reach for the team, but during the final two events, the Thunderbolts placed in the lower half of the standings, causing the Thunderbolts to finish ninth overall in Marble League 2018.
During the 2018 offseason, the Thunderbolts continued with a mediocre array of finishes. Just before Marble League 2019 Qualifiers, the five original members of the team retired. Thunderstorm, who became coach just before the athletes’ retirements, recruited five of their trainers from Thorston to hop onboard the team. With their prolific experience in other tournaments such as the Knikkegen Marble League and Tour de Vellis, the Thunderbolts asserted their newfound energy and qualified for Marble League 2019 in ninth. However, the team underestimated what the main tournament would require of them, and entered Marble League 2019 as a rookie team in everything but name only. Despite earning silver in Balancing and reaching fourth place after only three events, the Thunderbolts would flounder about the rest of the season, and were unable to get above seventh in all but two of the last 11 events. The team’s worst finishes were two back-to-back events where they placed dead last, with Lightning’s DNF in the Dirt Race and the team’s slow and unsteady Rafting run sealing the team’s fate in 13th place overall with 119 points.
The Thunderbolts’ hosting bid for Marble League 2020 was denied in favor of Team Galactic’s. The team, dejected, returned to Thorston to train for the Marble League 2020 Qualifiers. A few months later, they received an official letter from JMR, which invited the Thunderbolts to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The team was shocked, but accepted the invitation without much hesitation, with Shock, “Gigawatt” and Bolt, “Mlöjnir” representing the team in the tournament. After seven months of intense training, Shock, Bolt, and coach Thunderstorm flew to Vellis for the start of Marbula One. The high expectations they placed on themselves didn’t come to fruition in the first half of the season. Despite Bolt’s fifth-place finish at the O’raceway, the Thunderbolts sat in 13th place overall halfway through. It looked like they would continue their declining performance.
However, the season turned around in the second half. At Greenstone, Bolt qualified in a season-best third position and claimed the silver. Shock replicated the feat in front of the home crowd at the Short Circuit GP. After qualifying eighth and falling as low as 11th, Shock slowly started making their way back through the field. Most of the race was spent oscillating around sixth in the racing order, but Shock put it in high gear with two passes on the final lap to claim the Thunderbolts’ second consecutive silver medal. After a couple more bottom-half finishes, the team ended the season in eighth, their best finish in competition since 2016, and went back home to train for Marble League 2020.
The Marbula One team went home to the news that their new training facility, just on the southeast outskirts of Thorston, was complete. Built to accommodate the harsh storms in the area, it had indoor and outdoor training options and stands as one of the largest training facilities on Marblearth. It was designed by Avalanche, an architect from the nearby city of Osnow, who designed many famous and exquisite buildings across Marblearth. The momentum from their strong finish in Marbula One carried into Qualifying for the 2020 Marble League. There was nothing flashy, but consistent top-half results in each of the four events ensured their fourth-place finish in the Qualifiers, making their fifth consecutive Marble League.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t convert that into success in the Marble League. The Thunderbolts found themselves in the bottom four in three of the first four events, and the trend of average finishes continued throughout the competition. One bright spot of the tournament came in Event 15, Collision, where the team took silver and earned their first Marble League medal in 27 events. The team’s Collision performance got them from 15th to 11th in the standings, but a 15th in the Marble Marathon pushed them down to 13th overall where they finished, mirroring their finish in 2019. The team was never higher than 11th overall and only had six top-half finishes.
Even with the subpar performance, the city of Stormholm was not dejected. Excitement rippled through the city for the upcoming conference between the team and the local community. Most of the team’s operations are conducted in Thorston, but the team chose the nearby city of Stormholm for this conference. The overall point of the conference was to announce a change in team involvement. Thunderstorm would continue to be the coach but would focus on the performance level of training. They would help with technique, strength, conditioning, and any other aspect of training that would directly come into play in the competition.
It was further announced that the old members of the team, namely Bolta and Bolty, would be involved with the team. Using their competition experience, they would help with the mental aspect of competition. Bolta and Bolty would use their experience at the highest level to help with resilience after a bad performance, motivation before each event, and handling the moment. The separation of responsibilities within the team led to more efficiency within the organization, preparing Shock and Bolt for greater success in Season 2 of Marbula One.
The new training regimen introduced in the offseason had an almost immediate payoff in competition. Shock got the team’s first points of the new season in the opening race at Minty Mania, qualifying and ending in tenth and getting three points. The first sign of the high-quality performance that the Thunderbolts would display over the next few months came at the O’raceway. Despite having a mediocre race, Bolt flew through lap fourteen in a blistering 25.63 seconds, receiving an extra point for the fastest lap, earning five points overall. Two races later at the Aquamaring, Bolt came looking for hardware. After qualifying in fourth, they climbed up to second in the opening five laps. Bolt found themselves side by side with race leader Pulsar of Team Galactic on the belt, and with the better launch off into lap six, Bolt held the lead. Their lead got as large as almost two seconds before relinquishing it to Red Eye on lap eleven. Bolt contended for the top position for the rest of the race, but ended in second, equaling their best career finish.
It was right back to work for Bolt the next week at Tumult Turnpike, and their form was just as good. After going third-best in Q1, Bolt defended the transfer position in Q2 and went to Q3 for the second week in a row. They made up all three positions in the first shootout lap and got pole position for the race. Already having their best qualification position, Bolt put together their best race yet. Never lower than third position and leading for ten of the sixteen laps, it was the Thunderbolts’ best chance to pick up gold. In the end, Hazy took the top step and Bolt got a second consecutive silver—the team’s fifth silver medal in the calendar year. Shock got their best finish of the season the next week at the Arctic Circuit with a fifth-place finish. At the halfway point, the Thunderbolts sat in fourth overall.
During the Marbula One hiatus, the whole team was invited to compete in the Marble League Winter Special. After a last-place finish in the Ice Dash, Bolt competed in the Snowboard Cross event. In the heats, they finished one-thousandth of a second behind Kinnowin of the O’rangers and advanced to the semifinal where they again got second, two-thousandths of a second behind Aqua of the Oceanics. The rematch between Aqua and Bolt came in the final. Aqua held the lead for the top half of the course before Bolt took the lead toward the bottom of the course. In a third consecutive photo finish, Bolt fell again and claimed the silver medal, their third silver in the past three months.
With the second-place finish, the Thunderbolts moved up to sixth in the standings and sent Thunder to represent them in Speed Skating. Thunder was in the last pair to run and was on pace to finish fifth after the first lap. The next two turns were much better and they were on pace for first halfway through the race. When the dust settled, Thunder ran a 29.46: a Marble League record. It was also the Thunderbolts’ first gold medal since Bobsled in 2018 and left them in second place overall, also their highest since Bobsled in 2018. The final two events were average, getting tenth in Bobsled and eleventh in Ice Hockey after losing in the first round of the tournament to the Snowballs. They ended the Special in fifth place making it their highest Marble League finish since their third place in 2016.
When Marbula One resumed, Bolt got right back to work at the Raceforest. They jumped from seventh on the grid to get a bronze in the race. It was Bolt’s third medal in three Marbula One appearances. With the result, the Thunderbolts held second in the overall standings and Bolt held second in the individual standings. A few poor qualifying performances, including two failures to qualify in the next three races, hurt the Thunderbolts, but they remained in the podium positions overall.
The season fell apart for the Thunderbolts after the Raceforest GP. They didn’t get past the qualifying round in three of the final five races: Shock at the Momotorway and Misty Mountain and Bolt at Midnight Bay. In between their qualification woes, each competitor had a mediocre race. At Pallete Park, Bolt struggled in the early parts of the weekend. Qualifying fourteenth and quickly falling to sixteenth, it looked like the first poor performance of the season for Bolt. They did well to battle and end in ninth, matching their finishing position at the O’raceway but without the fastest lap.
Two weeks later at the Savage Speedway, Shock got an opportunity to improve on the fifteenth from the inaugural season. It started optimistically; fifth on the grid and third after the first turn boded well for the struggling marble in their final race of the season. However, as was the case for most of the team’s second half of the season, Shock struggled to find pace during each race and tumbled down the order. They fell as far down as twelfth before bouncing back and ending in seventh. After their rough final five races, the team ended in sixth overall, and Bolt finished fifth in the individual championship. A good result, but after the blistering start to the season, there was a lingering disappointment.
As a welcome intermission from the harsh storms, the Thunderbolts stayed in the Felynia area in the time between the Practice Race and the Qualifiers. Welcomed into the Marble League village, the main five members spent their time exploring along the river, training for better results than their abysmal Practice Race showing. Against all doubts, those better results came, and the Thunderbolts finished at the top of Group A to enter their sixth Marble League main tournament.
Having placed second in the Wave during Qualifiers, the Thunderbolts opened Marble League 2021 by placing fourth in the Wave and would place in the top half for all but four of the tournament’s 16 events. Although they were consistently the best-ranking team, the Thunderbolts earned only one medal: a bronze from Bolt in the Elimination Race. Their struggle to reach the podium in more events kept the team out of reach from the top three after the 5 Meter Relay. Although they were one of 11 teams able to win the championship heading into the final event, Bolt struggled in the Marblocross and finished eleventh in the racing order. The Thunderbolts finished 2021 eighth overall with 145 points, their best result in a Marble League since 2016.
Enjoying a box of Momo’s Dumplings after the closing ceremony, Bolt reunited with their team to return to Stormholm. Hearing that the Savage Speeders were beginning to train a youth team to compete in the Tour de Vellis, the Thunderbolts were inspired to do the same, establishing the Storm Front. Thunder and Shock co-coached the Storm Front until the Thunderbolts received their invitation to Season 3 of Marbula One; Shock, preferring to stay as their coach, recommended that Thunder take their spot within the duo of racers. Coach Thunderstorm accepted their decision, submitting Bolt and Thunder, “Stormbreaker” to compete in the coming races.
Special thanks to Project Marblearth contributors Roilan Estates and Stynth for helping craft the lore of the Thunderbolts.