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As 343 Guilty Spark is responsible for the defence and maintenance of Installation 04, 2401 Penitent Tangent is responsible for the defence and maintenance of Installation 05, and, like Guilty Spark, was created by the Forerunner. When seen in Halo 2 Penitent Tangent appears to be almost identical to Guilty Spark apart from having a deeper voice and core that glows red. This red glow could be a sign of rampancy, a condition where AI become insane and turn against their masters; it may be that he was forced to enter combat mode and in combat mode, monitors glow red; alternatively red may simply be the default colour of his core.
2401 Penitent Tangent is only seen within a single cutscene in Halo 2, where he is shown in the grasp of the Gravemind. Despite fans' speculation over his rampancy he seems eager to help the Master Chief remove the Flood infestation and uphold the protocols of Installation 05. He shows some annoyance towards the Prophet of Regret during this scene, due to Regret having a disregard of protocols, however the Gravemind ends their quarrel, stating that the Penitent Tangent's containment and the Covenant's 'Great Journey' are the same thing. Penitent Tangent's ultimate fate is unknown, however it is very much possible that he was consumed into the Gravemind.
In a Bungie weekly update a transmission from a Forerunner computer appeared stating that Penitent Tangent had been neglectful of his duties and that requests had gone unanswered by Penitent Tangent and the systems he controlled for roughly seven years, possibly due to his capture by the Gravemind. Penitent Tangent's absence also seems to have been the cause of the Flood outbreak in the Forerunner research and containment facility that can be seen on the Halo 3 map Cold Storage.
- The 2401 at the beginning of 2401 Penitent Tangent's name is one of Bungie's multiple references throughout their games to the number 7. 7 to the power of 4 = 2401, 343 (as in 343 Guilty Spark) x 7 = 2401 and 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 2401.
- As 2401 Penitent Tangent is monitor of Installation 05 this strengthened the theory that each Halo has a monitor which a name beginning with a 7 to the power of their installation number, with the exception of Installation 01 which is presumed to have a monitor whose name starts with 1.
- 2401 Penitent Tangent can be seen floating around the Halo 2 multiplayer map Backwash.